Working part time is a means to an end for Kierra Howard of Macon.
Howard works at Wal-Mart on Zebulon Road while attending Central Georgia Technical College on her way to certification as a radiology technician.
The 25-year-old Southwest High School graduate eventually would like to be a nurse. She has never had a full-time job and will use her radiology degree as a springboard to her career.
“I really want to do nursing, so I am using this degree to get myself into the health care field and get me on my feet,” Howard said.
The goal of full-time employment means benefits, and a larger paycheck, she said. Because Howard is being retrained in a high-demand field and meets income and other eligibility requirements, she is being supported in her school by funding from the federal Workforce Investment Act. The program is administered through the Middle Georgia Regional Commission for the Macon-Bibb Workforce Investment Board Inc.
The trend of workers who were seeking full-time work but could only find part-time work was down slightly from 2012 to 2013, based on data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average number of workers who could only find part-time work due to economic conditions in Georgia fell from an average of 46,000 to 43,000.
The recession often moved people out of jobs in lower-demand fields, where layoffs might lead to part-time work before the workers could be retrained, said Cathy Hagins, a supervisor at the Department of Labor in Macon.
“A lot of times, the job someone did before they were laid off (during the recession) may have been a declining job,” Hagins said.
Sheknita Davis, work force development director for the Middle Georgia Regional Commission, said her agency works with many part-time workers, but often they are part-time because they are in fields that do not lead to full-time work, such as many retail positions. In order to become full-time workers, they need to retrain for skills in higher-demand fields.
“We see a lot of people who are part time and looking for full-time employment, but in order to do that, they need to gain skills in a new field,” Davis said.
Adults who are seeking full-time work through the Workforce Investment Act are required to meet criteria for eligibility, which might include a layoff, as well as household income requirements.
Another portion of the eligibility in the program is that job seekers must seek training in a high-demand field in the area. Among the fields in this area which are eligible for retraining include health care, information technology, high tech manufacturing, and warehousing and logistics.
“We focus on what we call ‘high demand, high growth, high wage,’ fields,” Davis said.
To contact writer Mark Vanderhoek, call 744-4225.