Need a job or workers? Macon Chamber offers technology to help

The+Greater+Macon+Chamber+of+Commerce+launched+a+new+greatermaconworks.com+website+to+better+connect+workers+with+employers+and+strengthen+the+local+workforce.+

Liz Fabian

The Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce launched a new greatermaconworks.com website to better connect workers with employers and strengthen the local workforce.

Choosing a career can be a daunting task for a student, so is recruiting workers for new industries scouting Macon.

The Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce is offering a new online tool that makes it easier to do both.

The greatermaconworks.com website and its related apps have a comprehensive platform to share information with all the area’s major stakeholders in education and business.

“It’s the Swiss Army knife. Every time you look at it, you find out something different you can do with it,” said Lynn Farmer, who specializes in talent and workforce engagement for the chamber.

When presenting the website Wednesday to the Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority, Farmer explained that one of the region’s largest employers, GEICO, only hires about 4 percent of those interviewed. If applicants had a better idea of what a job entailed and the needed skills, that percentage would likely be much higher, she said.

On the site, students and those looking for work can search a variety of career opportunities and see who is hiring. They can watch videos of local professionals explaining their jobs and hear what qualifications are necessary for that position.

Once a career path is identified, the site will also list the colleges, universities and technical schools that offer courses in that field.

A job seeker can also learn how to put together a resume or how to best present themselves during an interview. More than 160 work tutorials are offered with quizzes that can earn an applicant a badge on their resume to alert employers they have completed that course.

“Every young person in this community looking for a career, they will have the tools to do that,” chamber president Yvonne Williams told the industrial authority.

Stephen Adams, the executive director of the authority, said one of the main concerns from existing and potential industries is finding and keeping a qualified workforce.

“It’s very exciting to see this is checking so many of the boxes for the partners,” Adams said during the presentation. “I think we’re going to see a direct benefit to our industries and help recruit industries.”

At no cost, employers can set up a webpage on the site with videos and available job postings.

“This is extremely user-friendly as it takes you through the steps to either post a job or look for a job as a student,” Farmer said.

A company can post videos of what they expect in an employee and provide direct links to their available positions, often with just a phone call or email to set it up.

“It’s an opportunity to make sure people coming to them would have a certain set of information before they interview them,” Farmer said.

Students will learn about average salaries in the region, see available jobs and create accounts that connect them to employers.

“It’s really about bringing all local stakeholders to the same platform and gathering data across the board,” Farmer said.

The site is customized for the Middle Georgia region but users can access information from other places in the country that are also on the Workbay network.

Just last week in Tennessee, several thousand high school students at a Workbay career fair watched Byron veterinarian Vernard Hodges, who co-stars on National Geographic Channel’s Critter Fixers: Country Vets.

In a three-minute video, Hodges explains he didn’t have the grades to make it into vet school, but gained invaluable experience working for the Agency for International Development and developing an aquaculture fish farm that fed a village in Nepal. That experience gave him the edge to get accepted at Fort Valley State University ahead of others with higher grade point averages.

Hodges’ amazing success story might spark interest in local high school students through the program introduced this summer, Farmer said.

“We have a health science pathway in the school system and have lots of kids who want to go into health care,” she said. “We’re trying to bring career paths, industries and jobs to life in our community.”

The One Macon Plan encouraged the chamber to find a tool like this. The Workbay organization was founded in Memphis by former teacher, textbook writer and Fortune 500 company trainer Mary Hayes.

While working with Walmart, Hayes learned the company spends about $3,500 to onboard and train new associates.

“When you leave that employer, you don’t have anything to show that you have deed and title to that skill set,” Hayes said Thursday in a phone interview. “In a knowledge economy, your money in the bank is your skill set.”

Because many skills learned on the job will transfer to other occupations, pooling job requirements on the website can enlighten all future job applicants about opportunities and thereby strengthen the whole Middle Georgia workforce, Hayes said.

She sees her web network as a talent pipeline management initiative where the chamber can bring employers together to determine the necessary skills needed and develop the desired resume badges workers can earn to show they know what it takes to do the job.

Because so many people have been sidelined from the workforce due to COVID-19, they can learn skills for new trades through this resource, Hayes said.

The launch of greatermaconworks.com is funded by grants from the United Way and Community Foundation of Central Georgia’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery fund with support from Central Georgia Technical College, Work Source Georgia and the Mercer Engineering Research Center.

Industrial Authority board chairman Robby Fountain said bringing new companies to town is difficult without the proper workforce.

“This is excellent and I just can’t wait to see the kids start using it and see some of our industries using it,” he said. “I think it’s a heck of a tool.”

Contact Civic Reporting Senior Fellow Liz Fabian at 478-301-2976 or [email protected]