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‘Supplying a Trained Workforce:’ Dalton State’s New Degree Reflects Collaboration

There is a severe shortage of trained workers with a chemistry background to support local flooring and chemical industries, according to the president of a local business.

Providing degrees to help fill the workforce is a priority at Dalton State. And the College’s 21st bachelor’s degree, a Bachelor of Applied Science in Scientific Technology with a concentration in chemistry, should help meet the needs of local businesses and industry.

“The new Bachelor of Applied Science in Scientific Technology will be invaluable in supplying the trained workforce to meet the present needs of our industries and the personnel for future growth,” said Vann Brown, president of Brown Ox Ventures, a chemical and technology company.

The degree, housed in the School of Science, Technology, and Mathematics, was approved Wednesday by the Georgia Board of Regents.

“The degree is designed to prepare graduates for careers in a scientific laboratory setting in a managerial role,” said Dr. Andy Meyer, interim vice president for Academic Affairs. “Individuals who have technical knowledge, skills, and experiences can gain additional knowledge and competencies to prepare them for advancement.”

On Dec. 2 of last year, a group of educators from Dalton State, Georgia Northwestern Technical College, and Whitfield County Schools met with chemical industry leaders at the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce to discuss the needs of the industry, said Barbara Ward, director of workforce development at the chamber.

The result was a sequence of laddered programs which allows students to earn a certificate, diploma, an associate of applied science, and then the bachelor’s degree. Students can progress through the program without losing credits.

“From that time until today, vast strides have been made to meet the needs of the chemical industry,” Ward said. “GNTC is prepared to offer Chemical Technician classes to high school and college students that can transfer to an associate’s degree, and now those students will have the opportunity to move seamlessly to a Bachelor of Applied Science degree.”

The community worked together to create a chemistry program to prepare graduates to meet the needs of the region.

 “At each progressive rung on the program ladder, the student will gain additional skills and knowledge,” said Dr. Randall Griffus, dean of Dalton State’s School of Science, Technology, and Mathematics. “The program is flexible enough to allow entry into the workforce after earning any of the four credentials and complete the subsequent programs while employed and earning a living. The program was developed through partnerships with businesses and educators, assuring that the program would meet a need in the region and would be delivered, to the extent possible, using resources currently available at the schools involved.”

Students can begin working toward this degree at the high school level.

“The program works synergistically with the new chemical programs at the Northwest College and Career Academy and Georgia Northwestern Technical College,” Brown said. “Now students with an interest in chemistry can begin taking classes for credit while in high school at the career academy, continue their education at GNTC and then seamlessly transition to Dalton State, receiving full credit for the courses completed.”

Brian Cooksey, of Shaw Industries, is glad to see this collaboration come together.

“Together, these programs will supply the skilled workforce in laboratory chemistry skills that are needed within the floorcovering and chemical industries throughout the Northwest Georgia Region,” he said. “Students, beginning in high school, will be able to complete relevant training to prepare them for a variety of jobs and also have continued educational opportunities to help them grow and advance within the field as they continue with their careers.”

Officials involved in this program hope to continue the partnerships and collaboration.

“I hope this is the first of many examples of Dalton State partnering with local school systems and the Technical College System of Georgia to provide workforce solutions for the region,” said Dr. Margaret Venable, president of Dalton State.

The degree varies from the Bachelor of Science in Chemistry already offered by Dalton State, but some of the required classes will overlap.

Classes required for the Bachelor of Applied Science in Scientific Technology with a concentration in chemistry include Organic Chemistry and Quantitative Analysis. Students can choose to take classes such as Conservation Biology, Ecotoxicology, Environmental Chemistry, Textile Chemistry, Advanced Inorganic Chemistry, Survey of Economics, or Survey of Accounting.

“Recently, Northwest Georgia was named one of seven national partners in the Communities That Work Partnership by the US Department of Commerce,” Ward said. “As we look at what ‘works’ in this community, the collaboration of industry leaders with leaders of education makes the difference. A very special thank you to all who worked to bring the needs of the chemical industry before the University System of Georgia Board of Regents. It is a great day for Greater Dalton and Northwest Georgia.”