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Officials market skilled trade careers
'Go Build' tour wraps up in Forsyth
Tricia Pridemore, executive director of the Governors Office of Workforce Development, talks Thursday about the Go Build Georgia program. - photo by Jim Dean

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Learn more about the Go Build Georgia program and skilled trade professions at



Dru Horne wants to become a doctor, but he’s open to learning about other options.

The junior at North Forsyth High was one of about 75 people who attended an informational meeting on Go Build Georgia, a new program from the Governor’s Office of Workforce Development that encourages high school students to learn more about skilled trade careers in the state.

Held Thursday night at Lanier Technical College’s Forsyth Conference Center, the meeting drew educational and business representatives from Forsyth and several other northeast Georgia counties.

Horne said he got an e-mail about the meeting from his grandfather, who works in construction.

“A lot of people I know [at school] have this attitude that construction is almost second class or something,” Horne said. “I’ve never thought that myself because I have a lot of family in the business.”

Those attitudes and perceptions toward skilled labor fields, which include jobs such as carpenters, plumbers and masons, are what leaders of Go Build Georgia hope to change.

Tricia Pridemore, executive director of the workforce development office, explained that today’s skilled trades offer a range of benefits, including high salaries, but are the toughest areas to fill in Georgia.

“In 2012, we’ll have 16,500 skilled trade jobs to fill and the good news is that market will continue to grow,” she said.

Thursday’s meeting was the last of a 15-stop tour around the state. Pridemore said it purpose was “to build a broad coalition of stakeholders,” who can help guide students’ career paths.

“We want the end result of making sure our students know of all the opportunities out there and that they have options [besides a four-year degree],” she said.

Jim McDonald, dean of Lanier Tech’s Dawson County campus, spoke briefly on the 10 programs in skilled trade fields that the college offers. Those include several in the areas of welding, electrical and heating, ventilation and air conditioning.

“My whole career is based on a foundation in the skilled trades,” said McDonald, a machinist.

“America has always been a nation of builders, but recently other fields like technology and health care have taken that focus away.”

Gary Bishop agreed, saying there is an image problem.

“Yes, some of these jobs are dirty jobs, but they’re high-paying jobs,” said Bishop, a district training manager for PCL Industrial Construction Co. “Your typical welder with a few certifications and a little experience can make $74,000 a year.”

As for Horne, the North Forsyth student, he plans to encourage classmates to be more open minded.

“A lot of kids say they have to go to college so they can become a doctor or a lawyer … but someone has to build the buildings that give doctors, lawyers and politicians a place to work,” he said.