CONYERS - The unemployment rate in Rockdale has been steadily going down and a new program hopes to help continue that trend by putting people to work.
Rockdale Works, a workplace fundamental certification program, graduated its first class of students May 13. Out of the six students who graduated - Austin Gizzard, Pavel Warren, Gail Pemberton, Lacretia Usher, Carl Morris, Hilda Lau - four have already found jobs in the manufacturing, healthcare and government fields.
Georgia Piedmont Technical College (GPTC) Continuing Education Director Katrina Young, who also serves on the Rockdale County school board, was a driving force behind getting this program implemented. She says, that seeing people go through the program and earn positions "makes you feel good" because the program has helped them.
The program is aimed at helping people who are unemployed, underemployed or displaced. The 94-hour training program is designed to prepare students with practical skills for the workforce. Specific training can earn students certificates in various fields including, but not limited to, lift truck operation, general industry and computer skills.
The program had a lot of community support behind it as well. Including the GPTC, Rockdale County Public Schools-Work Based Learning, Atlanta Regional Workforce Board, Ceek to Fulfill, City of Conyers, Connection Consultants, Conyers Housing Authority, Conyers-Rockdale Chamber, Exel, Inc., Future Staff, Georgia Department of Labor, Monarch Consulting LLC, Rockdale Coalition for Children and Families, Rockdale County Accountability Courts, Rockdale County Emergency Relief, Rockdale County Government, Rockdale County Sheriff's Office and the United Way have all supported the program in some capacity.
Giving the students "exposure" to new things is a major benefit of the program, says Young.
"(Their) new skills (will help them) get out there and compete in the workforce arena," she said.
The students who earn jobs will be monitored at their new places of employment for one year to see if the needs of the job are being meant, says Young. Their assessments for those studies will help mold the program for future students.
Young says there are plans to host the program again later this year.