The name “Melvin Everson” is a household name to many in Gwinnett, especially to those who live in Snellville. The man who has worked his way up through the state’s political ranks as a councilman, member of the House of Representatives, Director of the Governor’s Office of Workforce Development, then Executive Director and Administrator of the Georgia Office of Equal Opportunity, has come back home to Gwinnett County.
In April of this year, Everson assumed the role of Director of Business and Industry Training at Gwinnett Technical College. Although this new job isn’t in the political arena, Everson will pull from his many years’ experience in this new role, which he assumed in April of this year. The name “Melvin Everson” is a household name to many in Gwinnett, especially to those who live in Snellville. The man who has worked his way up through the state’s political ranks as a councilman, member of the House of Representatives, Director of the Governor’s Office of Workforce Development, then Executive Director and Administrator of the Georgia Office of Equal Opportunity, has come back home to Gwinnett County. In April of this year, Everson assumed the role of Director of Business and Industry Training at Gwinnett Technical College. Although this new job isn’t in the political arena, Everson will pull from his many years’ experience in this new role.
Actually this new position seems to be tailor-made for Everson. “It’s my job (at Gwinnett Tech) to go out and talk to businesses, to assess their current and future needs for both the company and the employees who already work there,” Everson explained. Then we here at Gwinnett Tech devise a strategy and provide the business with a plan designed to ensure long-term success for both them and for their employees.
“We are in a position to identify and address the needs of businesses, existing and new, to the area as they grow and expand,” said Mary Beth Byerly, Gwinnett Tech’s Vice President of Institutional Advancement.
“With a limited college budget, corporate partnerships are very important, not only to us, but to the companies and our economy.”
“Think about it. With programs such as ‘Move On When Ready’, HOPE Scholarship, Hope Grant and the HOPE CAREER Grant, whether a Georgia student graduates high school or goes on to earn an Associate degree here at Gwinnett Tech, he does so ready to work in a skilled job earning a good income. That sounds a lot better to many students than coming out of college saddled with the average $35,000 in student debt, and limited employment prospects,” said Byerly. Of course Byerly was quick to add that we are very fortunate in Gwinnett to have outstanding access to affordable high quality education which leads to high demand careers and is excited about the options that Georgia students have, even as 9th-graders, to take college classes geared toward a specific career.
Something else that’s exciting, according to Everson, is a phenomenon he’s seeing out in the workplace. “Employers are asking their employees what they want and need, and they’re listening! That’s huge,” he said. “When employees see that their employer is investing in them and is interested in growing their careers within the company, turnover rates drop significantly.”
The flexibility to listen to a corporation’s needs, then respond to those needs with a measurable, meaningful strategy, is just one of the reasons that companies are looking to technical colleges like Gwinnett Tech to shore up their workforce and groom future leaders. Whether a company’s needs can be answered by an employee earning a certificate, a group of employees participating in Leadership Training, or by the school designing an entire new degree program, Gwinnett Tech can do it - and does it well.
Another example of the public and private sectors partnering to answer another critical workforce need is Gwinnett Tech’s state-of-the-art welding lab. Through the HOPE CAREER Grant, tuition is free to qualified welding students. Stakeholders in Georgia worked together to make that lab and the program expansion happen. The school offers 27 eligible certificate and diploma programs through the HOPE CAREER Grant in high demand strategic workforce industries to students.
Everson and Byerly also offered the examples of health care and IT (specifically, cybersecurity). Gwinnett Tech currently offers 22 programs in health care, the most offering of any college in Georgia. The school’s cybersecurity students are most often employed upon graduation; in fact, the job placement rate among all Gwinnett Tech graduates is an impressive 99.4 percent.
“Anyone who knows me, knows that I have a passion for this. I am passionate about telling students what technical colleges offer them, and not to miss the opportunities of a technical college,” Everson said. Both Byerly and Everson agree that four-year colleges are wonderful and needed, but they also agree that viable careers do not always need a four year degree, and that has nothing to do with intelligence or a student’s work ethic. Students must know and fully understand their options before they graduate high school. The time to be thinking about an educational and career path is well before then, one reason that Georgia’s “Move On When Ready” program accepts students as young as 14-and-a-half years old, 9th graders. That’s when the conversations and choices must be presented to students and parents alike.
For more information about Gwinnett Technical College, visit www.gwinnetttech.edu. For more information about Business and Industry Training, contact Melvin Everson’s office at 678-226-6930