Gov. Kemp Tours Georgia Piedmont Technical College, Highlighting Johnson Controls Investments in Local Skilled Trades Programs

Staff Report

Tuesday, May 14th, 2024

Pictured, left to right: TCSG Commissioner Greg Dozier, GPTC President Dr. Tavarez Holston, Johnson Controls Market General Manager Anthony Outland, GPTC Building Automation Systems student Justin Hawkins, Johnson Controls North American President Julie Brandt, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and First Lady Marty Kemp.

Johnson Controls, the global leader for smart, healthy and sustainable buildings, today toured Georgia Piedmont Technical College’s (GPTC) Clarkston campus with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and first lady Marty Kemp to demonstrate the investments made in the school’s technical training programs and to dedicate state-of-the-art learning spaces. GPTC is a recipient of the Johnson Controls Community College Partnership Program, which directly addresses the need for skilled trade technicians in the building technology industry, a growing necessity for Georgia and across the country. This visit emphasizes the governor's commitment to cultivating a highly skilled workforce and supporting the state's economic growth in the building technology sector.

“As Georgia continues to enjoy historic job creation, we’re grateful for all our private sector partners who are helping us meet the workforce needs that come with this exciting growth,” said Governor Brian Kemp. “I want to thank Johnson Controls for investing in one of our great technical colleges and the leadership of both the Technical College System of Georgia and Georgia Piedmont Technical College who are putting these funds to good use through a state-of-the-art facility and hands-on training programs that will help us grow our workforce in a critical area.”

Launched in 2021, the $15 million Community College Partnership Program aims to expand access to skilled trade education and bring new talent into the world of advanced and AI-driven building technology. GPTC is one of 30 participating schools and has received almost $300,000 in funding over the past three years. This funding has been used to provide scholarships to the School of Industrial Technologies, improve the Building Automation Systems (BAS) program with modern lab equipment and enhance the college’s commercial refrigeration and welding education. Johnson Controls employees work with participating colleges to offer students real-world experience, internship opportunities and professional networking connections.

“Johnson Controls has been an integral part of the Georgia community for more than a century, working with organizations that touch the lives of individuals every day,” said Julie Brandt, president of Building Solutions North America at Johnson Controls. “Our team of dedicated employees takes great pride in their work and the positive impact they have on the community. Through our commitment to education, innovation and creating opportunities for young students, we are not only addressing critical industry needs but also making equitable investments in Georgia's future.”

Due to heightened retirements and job changes following the pandemic, there is a shortage of skilled trade workers to fill vacancies in the building technology industry. The ongoing shortage poses challenges for businesses and communities that rely on skilled service technicians to maintain HVAC, security and fire systems and increase their building’s efficiency, safety and indoor air quality.  

“The skilled trade worker shortage presents an incredible opportunity to inspire the next generation of individuals who are looking for hands-on, high-reward technical careers,” said Tavarez Holston, president of Georgia Piedmont Technical College. “We’re grateful for Johnson Controls investments in our programs as we work to prepare our students for their success in the field and close the skilled trade gaps in our region.”

One recipient of the commitment to education and workforce development is 29-year-old Justin Hawkins of Atlanta. Hawkins works at the energy plant at Georgia’s capitol building and surrounding state government buildings, including the governor’s mansion. He recently served on a team that did a complete HVAC system upgrade at the first family’s residence including a new monitoring system, pumps and valves. Already a graduate of GPTC’s Air Conditioning Technology degree program, he’s scheduled to graduate in May of 2025 with his BAS degree, following hands-on training to install, access, control and monitor connected building systems from a single interface.

“Enrolling in Georgia Piedmont in 2021, I knew I wanted to try something different and more technology-facing than the landscaping work I was used to,” Hawkins said. “I haven’t even finished my second degree with the school and my salary has already more than doubled. The marketable skills I have gained through the programs at GPTC will take me a long way.”

Furthering its commitment to skilled trades education across the state, Johnson Controls also celebrated the opening of the Lincoln Tech East Point Campus to support HVAC, electrical and welding students with the necessary training to enter the workforce. Since 2019, Johnson Controls and Lincoln Tech have worked together to identify, train and hire new talent. The training institute’s expansion to East Point, Georgia opens the door for education and skill development throughout the community.  

To learn more about the Johnson Controls Community College Partnership Program, visit: Community College Partnership Program | Johnson Controls