State Labor Commissioner Speaks in Stephens Co.

State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler makes a stop in Stephens County.

Butler was the guest speaker at Tuesday’s meeting of the Toccoa Rotary Club at the Gate Cottage on the campus of Toccoa Falls College.

The commissioner covered a number of topics in his talk to the club.

He said that the state’s economy faced many challenges when he entered office in 2011.

According to Butler, the state has made progress on many of those fronts, especially on lowering unemployment.

Butler said that what his department found is that it was not necessarily a lack of jobs in some cases, the problem was finding people with the skills to fill those positions.

“If you read most news stories, what were you hearing?” asked Butler.  “There were no jobs anywhere.  What we were finding out was something different.  What we heard from businesses all over the state was a lot of businesses were trying to hire but they were having a hard time finding talent.”

He went on to say that people should not be surprised.

“You go back and look through our history, anytime you have a recession or a depression and start to come out of it, generally the companies that survive are the ones that were able to come through that, they are going to be using new technology, vastly different than what they had before.”

Butler said the state must work with businesses to find out what skills they need and train people to do those jobs

He added that while Georgia has good incentives and a good location, businesses need to know that they can find the workers in Georgia they need to be successful.

Not only does the state need to make sure workers have the job skills they need, Butler says many workers need to learn so-called “soft skills” in order to be successful.

“Things like showing up on time, getting along with others, being respectful,” said Butler.  “When I was growing up, we didn’t call it ‘soft skills’, we called it common sense.”

He says his department has started working with schools in the state to train students on those “soft skills.”

Butler also talked about the Labor Department’s efforts in helping returning veterans re-enter the workforce.