This past Saturday, I had the great opportunity to take part in the World Affairs Council of Atlanta 4th Young Leaders Conference at The Commerce Club in downtown Atlanta. After a rather early morning and a decent amount of coffee, the conference proved to be extremely interesting and completely relevant to some of the GACC South’s 2012 focuses. The conference was about “Democracy, Democratization and Development,” but as I quickly realized, the process of world-wide development goes hand-in-hand with the mission of the GACC South.
In last year’s German American Business Outlook survey we learned that workforce development and education are becoming increasingly important to German companies in, and looking to come to, the United States. Many of the German companies coming to our American shores are high-tech, providing high-wage jobs for Americans. The hurdle has been that there are not enough workforce training programs in place in the U.S., and often these positions go unfilled. Even the K-12 system doesn’t seem to quite prepare workers for the opportunities these new companies can bring. Many of our companies are either developing their own training programs, similar to those in Germany, or working with local community colleges to create adequate programs. A great example of this is the work happening at Piedmont Community College in North Carolina.
How great it was, then, to find out that the national chapters of the World Affairs Council has made education and workforce development a top priority as well, as I learned from President & CEO of the World Affairs Council of America, Dr. Lori Murray, in her opening speech.
Other highlights of the day were hearing from Dr. John Stremlau, Vice President of Peace Programs at the Carter Center, Jim Clancy, Anchor at CNN and CNN International, Liz McLaughlin, Executive Director of Institutional Fundraising and Partnerships of CARE USA, and Marika McCauley, Director of International Government Relations & Public Affairs at The Coca-Cola Company. I also got to chat with the closing speaker Dr. John Eaves, Chairman of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners, about how we may be able to work with Fulton County to put some new educational initiatives into place in the future.
I’m excited to see where these new connections can take us and looking forward to working more with the World Affairs Council of Atlanta on shared goals!