Speaker Ralston: Career Readiness “Most Pressing Issue”

Georgia’s Speaker of the House, David Ralston of Blue Ridge, is the subject of an interview in this month’s edition of Capitol Ideas, a magazine published by the Council of State Governments. Using a question and answer format, the story provides some insight into the speaker’s thinking in areas including education and workforce development.

After mentioning the nationwide need for a limited government that lives within its needs, Ralston cited career and educational readiness as the biggest issue facing the southeast region in the upcoming year.

What do you see as the most pressing issue facing states in your region in 2015?

“I think at the top of the list has to be career and educational readiness in terms of preparing our students and our citizens for the 21st century workforce. Economic development is critical, I think, to the future of our region and workforce readiness is something that we can’t overemphasize because that, in my view, is the most important component of a sound economic development strategy.”

What are the most important steps states can take to strengthen their workforce?

“I think, again, a strong focus on educational improvement and educational reform, whether it’s at pre–K or in the early years of elementary going on into college. Our technical colleges, I think, are a very important part of strengthening our workforce.”

Later in the interview, Ralston talks about how food insecurity can limit the ability of children to get a good education, and the importance of rural economic development and helping residents not living in a metropolitan area to find employment. He also talks about the steps the Peach State has taken to make it easier for veterans and those with criminal records to find employment.

4 comments

  1. Stringer Bell says:

    What does ” a strong focus on educational improvement and educational reform” mean? Our politicians are obsessed with educational reform but don’t have any vision of how they want to transform the workforce for the future. If Speaker Ralston wants a workforce for the future, he needs to advocate for a strong emphasis in math and science education from middle school throughout high school. We need to stop treating advanced math classes at the middle school level as a special access program and place most kids into pre-algebra by the 6th grade. The material is not hard to comprehend if you have a good teacher, which is why science and math teachers should receive a signing bonus to 1) attract better teachers and to 2) help offset the opportunity cost for people with high demand majors.

    I will give credit to Speaker Ralston for emphasizing technical college. We all know what an important roll for the Georgia workforce that they serve. Unfortunately for him, however, he will be fighting an uphill battle in a society that values a BA in Newspaper and Magazines than it does an AS in Welding.

    • John Konop says:

      …..pre-algebra by the 6th grade…..

      Great idea for math orientated students…..bad idea for all students…..We need flexibility based on aptitude not one size fit all….We need to increase job skill tracks for students before they graduate high school. Finally we should coordinate the business community locally through the chamber with schools to provide internships, co-op…..for vo tech and 4 year college prep…

      • Stringer Bell says:

        John,

        You’re absolutely right that we need flexibility based on aptitude, but we also need to start holding on children to a higher standard. Children CAN learn the material, we need to do what we can to make sure they do.

        In your opinion, what would coordinating with the local business community for internships do? What would an optimal model look like? I’m not sure I’ve ever really heard of this at the HS level.

        • John Konop says:

          We could have business post internships and job openings on a chamber job web site. The students could apply for the jobs based on interest and aptitude. My son in 12th grade did an internship at Blackberry. It was great experience for him….taught him a lot about the real world….also help him get into GT….It was not coordinated with his school. In Cherokee we created on line home school option to make it easier for students to maintain jobs and or internships ie got idea from the issues with my son’s internship. The students can take classes in school, and on line to help coordinate working schedule. What we have not done is formally coordinate the business community opportunities, and the school so both sides have a win-win opportunity, and students have the job opportunities promoted to them. If you combine this with certification classes, and or AP/join enrolment school work you would have a real win/win situation. In one of my business I hired an 12th grader to do work who contacted me from his private school, ironically pushing same concept…. My partner and I were so impressed with him, we created a job around his skill sets, and his future aspirations. He was willing to do it for free, but we insisted on paying him. Nothing better than real life job experience mixed in with education. He is helping us with a project we kept putting off….ie win/win

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