The Georgia Department of Labor estimates that a preliminary in December 2016, Madison County had a labor force of 13,522 workers, with 12,887 employment and an unemployment rate of 4.7 percent. However, adjacent counties should be considered in establishing the labor pool, as most of their land area and population lie near Madison County. They are Athens-Clarke, Elbert, Franklin, Hart, Jackson and Oglethorpe counties.
Manufacturing remains the largest employment sector in Madison County. However, in recent years, the retail and service sectors of the economy have been gaining increasingly larger portions of the employment market. In 1999 34.5 percent of the workforce in Madison County was employed in the service sector and construction employed 14.8 percent of the workforce.
The Athens Office of the Georgia Department of Labor Employment Service, at 472 North Avenue in Athens, serves Madison County. Personnel of this office can recruit workers to meet current and future labor requirements. They equip them to administer aptitude and proficiency tests. If workers with special skills are not available locally, they can be recruited in other areas through a clearance system with other public employment offices throughout the United States. Direct recruitment itineraries in selected areas can also be arranged.
Georgia has a unique labor training program known as "Quick Start" which is designed to train workers for specific, clearly defined jobs in a new or expanding company.
Employees learn new skills to be able to qualify for the new job opportunities. Simultaneously, the company realizes one of its prime goals: maximum productions with a minimum of expenditures of time and money.
When a company selects a plant site in Madison County, the Vice President, Economic Development from Athens Area Technical Institute and the State Training Coordinator from the Department of Technical and Adult Education consult with company officials. Together, they discuss the company's manpower needs, job requirements, and startup schedule so that the subsequent training courses will produce the right number of skilled people at the right time. Once all the training factors have been thoroughly discussed and agreed upon, the coordinators write a training plan and submit it to the company for approval. The training plan will clearly spell out the contents and projected goals of each course, beginning and completion dates, the location of training and the methods to be used in recruiting trainees. Suitable training facilities are set up at Athens Tech or, if more convenient, on the plant site. Sometimes company personnel who are familiar with the needed skills, are used to impart specialized knowledge or instructive skills to trainees.
Through the local State Employment Agency, prospective employees are recruited, tested and screened in accordance with company specifications. Costly recruitment hours are saved because only those applicants who qualify are referred to the company for final selection and enrollment.
A two-phase training sequence is often recommended. Phase one begins when company approved applicants are given pre-employment instructions at the school or plant site. At the company's option trainees may or may not be placed on the payroll during this phase. Phase one is designed to give the trainees a predetermined proficiency to move directly into phase two: on-the-job training.
When the company selects those trainees it wants for employment, on-the-job training begins. These trainees are already skilled enough to make an important contribution to the plant's operation, but they continue to sharpen their skills under the guidance of state-paid instructors. On-the-job training is formally structured with the trainees working toward predetermined goals. Training areas may be set up in the plant to allow additional instruction to progress without interfering with normal operations. The two-phase plan of training can be practiced during the entire build-up period until maximum employment levels are reached. After a new company has reached this level and becomes an established firm, the state can provide other job retraining and upgrading services through Athens Tech's regular industrial training services that will insure the company of an uninterrupted flow of qualified labor.
The first contact for this program is:
Vice President of Economic Development
Athens Technical College
US Highway 29 North
Athens, Georgia 30601
Phone – (706) 369-5873
Athens Technical College is 14 miles southwest of Danielsville and is a unit of the Department of Technical and Adult Education. The institution serves 10 counties in Northeast Georgia. Clarke, Elbert, Greene, Hart, Madison, Oconee, Oglethorpe, Taliaferro, Walton and Wilkes. In addition to the Quick Start program, Athens Tech offers a variety of courses in credit and non-credit programs.
Athens Tech offers 40 credit programs of study leading to a diploma in a wide range of vocational-technical fields. The institution also awards associate degrees in Electronic Engineering Technology and Electromechanical Engineering Technology. Jointly sponsored programs that lead to the associate degree from the University of Georgia and Gainesville College are also available.
A job placement service is available to students enrolled in programs of study at the institution. This service is designed to assist students in securing full-time or part-time employment.
Of great significance to existing industry is the public-private partnership called the "Center for Continuous Improvement." Founded by 10 charter members in 1991, the Center today has 23 members with additional companies joining annually. The Center is a one-stop shop of assessment, training and consulting on all issues related to becoming or remaining a "best in class" company, quality, team skills, speed to market and customer satisfaction are the four disciplines that the center develops within their clients' companies.
Existing businesses can also benefit from the expertise offered by the University of Georgia Business Outreach Services, the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education, the Georgia Department of Industry, Trade and Tourism, and the Georgia Tech Extension Services. All have offices in Athens.