More than 40 years ago, the newly created National Employer Council recommended that each state incorporate local employer committees to ensure employer input in the way state labor departments deliver their services.
The main goal, according to the National Employer Council, is to “open up and maintain a dialogue between employers and the Department of Labor and other appropriate agencies, groups and individuals, coordinate employer efforts and exchange information, seek solutions to employment/training and related problems in need of national attention.”
Georgia established its first employer committees in 1987. Today, its 51 employer committees are among the few still in existence. While most other states now have other ways to address the same issues, Georgia has found that employer committees work well within its boundaries.
“We bridge an information gap between the state and employers,” explained Jerry Myers, recently elected chairman of the DeKalb/Rockdale committee. “For example, there may be tax breaks available to employers who hire people in certain classifications—such as, people with disabilities. We help make employers aware of these opportunities and how to take advantage of them.”
Georgia’s employer committees are supported and spearheaded by the Georgia Employer Committee Executive Board, which serves as a direct link to the commissioner of labor and his staff in addressing employment-related needs of Georgia employers.
Georgia has the only Employer Committee Executive Board in the nation that makes annual trips to Washington, D.C., to meet with Georgia representatives to Congress on issues “of vital importance to all employers in Georgia and other workforce partners.”
Georgia also has the only Employer Committee organization in the nation to host its own website, www.georgiaec.com.
The Georgia Employer Committee’s Executive Board has been awarded an International Association of Workforce Professionals Group Citation Award, a recognition of “business groups that have made an outstanding contribution to employment, unemployment issues, training and related programs involved in the workforce arena.”
Each local committee in Georgia operates independently under its own by-laws, and that works well, according to Myers, who said that each employer committee is free to set priorities based on the needs of the communities it serves. Its activities, he said, aren’t always directly related to linking business and government.
“We serve the community in a wide variety of ways,” he said of the DeKalb /Rockdale Committee, whose membership includes business owners, human resources professionals, representatives of chambers of commerce and representatives from the Georgia Department of Labor.
“This year, we decided to get involved in our local community by visiting and providing gifts to a veterans’ retirement center, providing scholarships to [high school] seniors and feeding the homeless at [a church community center],” Myers said. He added that later this year, the organization will sponsor a job fair and a basketball tournament to raise money to support health-related issues.
Although the goal of the Employer Committee program was established in the 1970s, the state organization states, “the goal is still relevant today: provide a mechanism to improve the quality and relevance of the Department of Labor services to employers. That goal continues to be met by maintaining a working relationship between our Georgia Employer Committees and our Georgia Department of Labor.”