Atlanta Regional Workforce Area Gwinnett County Corrections Project

The Atlanta Regional Workforce Board's (ARWB’s) correctional project offers occupational skills training in welding, HVAC, and Commercial Apartment Maintenance at the Gwinnett County Correctional Institution. Career advisor staff are jointly-funded by Workforce Investment Act (WIA) funds from ARWB, and by Gwinnett County. The onsite occupational skills training is provided by the Center for Industry and Technology (CIT) through ARWB funds. Three or four classes/year, for eight to ten participants per class are offered for five days per week over a thirteen-week period. Classes include 250 or 310 hours of occupational skills instruction, and 100 hours or more in motivation/ retention, job search, and personal development. Classes are held in the late afternoon and evening, after inmates return from regular county work assignments, and for one full day each week. CIT instruction leads to nationally accepted, industry-wide credentials. The project takes a holistic approach to preparing offenders for re-entry into society. Staff work to assess and identify all barriers for each participant, and generate a plan for overcoming each barrier. Since the majority (88%) of the inmates have addiction to substance and alcohol, participation in Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous is an important first step for many. GED preparation and basic skills improvement is another key component of the program, as many inmates (61%) are high school dropouts At each graduation, former inmate "graduates" who are now successful employees, and their employee supervisors, provide "testimony" to those who have just completed the program. Many prospective employers actually meet these completers and their families at graduation, assess their support systems on the spot, and recruit them to work for their firms. Job development, and a post-incarceration support system development, is coordinated with the TOPPSTEP program of the Georgia Department of Labor and the Georgia Department of Corrections. Over the approximate ten-year lifetime of this project, 233 offenders have been served, with an 86.7% placement rate. Over 95% of former participants were employed three months after termination earning an average of $449 per week. Over the lifetime of this project, only a small percentage of participants returned to prison. The project's long term follow-up and contact with participants is a key reason the program is successful. Once released from prison, graduates are required to stay in touch with the program career advisor every two weeks for a year. This award-winning program is truly one of a kind in Georgia. For additional information, please contact: Atlanta Regional Workforce Area (404) 463-3326

Revised August 26, 2004