COVINGTON, Ga. — Multi-billion-dollar investments made by a few of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical and tech giants have paved the way for hundreds of new jobs for Newton County, renewing the local school system’s focus on what it means to be “career ready.”
Stanton Springs, an industrial park located near Social Circle, is currently home to Facebook’s Newton Data Center, Takeda Pharmaceuticals and the Georgia BioScience Training Center. Earlier this month, the Joint Development Authority of Jasper, Morgan, Newton and Walton Counties approved a $42 billion bond issue for Baymare LLC to build a second data center for an unnamed company within the 1,600-acre park.
Hundreds of jobs have accompanied the industries’ sizable investments. Takeda employs more than 1,000 full-time and contract positions at its Stanton Springs location alone. Facebook’s data center will employ approximately 300 workers once all phases of construction are completed and the new incoming data center’s plans call for the employment of another 300 workers.
Newton County Schools Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey wants to make sure the district’s students are ready and able to earn those positions.
Since locating to the area, Fuhrey said the district has worked hard to develop relationships and connect with the industries.
“These relationships, as well as our strong partnership with the Industrial Development Authority, allows us to better align our programs to meet current and upcoming workforce needs,” Fuhrey said. “As a school system, we see ourselves as an integral part of preparing students for the future of work, and we know that that future is advancing quickly.”
Fuhrey said the presence of Facebook’s Newton Data Center, specifically, has led to the school system placing greater focus on technology and innovation career fields and making sure students know those types of high-paying jobs are available here at home.
Abigail Coggin, who is current chairperson of the school system’s Board of Education, said it’s exciting to know students can go to college and come back home to take on quality, high-paying jobs — something the Newton County native said hasn’t always been available.
“Say you’ve got a few students who are interested in becoming a chemist,” Coggin said. “We can have someone from Takeda come talk with these students and show them these career paths exist here in the community. You don’t have to move to Atlanta or Charlotte — wherever.”
According to job information site Glassdoor, manufacturing technician salaries at Takeda Pharmaceuticals can range from $32,099 to $75,000. Salaries for data center technicians at Facebook can range from $81,012 to $201,445.
“When I was growing up, there weren’t many jobs like that,” Coggin said.
Fuhrey said many students have expressed interest in “high-tech” career fields. She gave credit to the district’s various related programs for the growing trend, and she anticipates it will continue over the next several years.
“Student career aspirations and interests do increase as they are exposed to new areas of study,” Fuhrey said. “Robotics, engineering and computer science opportunities in our schools have helped raise student interest in those areas over the last several years. We expect that trend to continue as our programs continue to grow and evolve with the needs of our local industry partners.”
Students interested in such trending jobs have a variety of opportunities through Newton County Schools’ career, technical and agricultural education programs that are offered at the middle and high school levels, Fuhrey said.
“Our pathway offerings in engineering, business and computer science are just three of the 38 career pathways that are available to our students,” she said. “These programs help students dive into skills needed in those careers and gives them a competitive advantage as they pursue post-secondary and career options after they leave the school system. Additionally, we engage students in activities like competitive robotics, beginning in elementary school, as a way to get them interested in engineering, computer programming and design-thinking.”
According to the U.S. News and World Report, four technology-driven careers were ranked among 2021’s top-15 best jobs:
• No. 2 - Software Developer - $107,510 median salary - 316,000 projected jobs available.
• No. 8 - Data Scientist - $94,280 median salary - 10,300 projected jobs available.
• No. 12 - IT Manager - $146,360 median salary - 48,100 projected jobs available.
• No. 15 - Information Security Analyst - $99,730 median salary - 40,900 projected jobs available.