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One of our areas largest employers is looking for more workers right now. Georgia Power tells NewsChannel 6 they have recently hired hundreds to work out at Plant Vogtle and they are still looking to hire hundreds more.

The first new nuclear units in the US in 30 years are currently under construction in Burke County at Plant Vogtle. Georgia Power and parent company, The Southern Company, plan to have nuclear reactor 3 finished by November 2021 and 4 finished by 2022. Because of that deadline, Georgia Power is ramping up their workforce to get it all finished in time.

Georgia Power says they have hired 700 people since November 1, 2018 and they are still hiring a few hundred more. Majority of those recently filled roles were those of skilled laborers—pipe fitters, welders, electricians etc.

They rely on Augusta trade groups like the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) to fill open positions.

“There’s a lot of money to be made in the construction industry,” says IBEW’s Will Salters.

Salter says they are constantly recruiting people from a variety of different places.  

“We look in the non-union sector,” Salters explains. “You have a lot of non-union electricians out there who don’t really have opportunities to advance so we do reach out to them. We go to the high schools and the technical schools and we go to job fairs. We try to go out to Ft. Gordon and Ft. Stewart

IBEW has an apprenticeship program that is 5 years and 2 nights a week.

“I mean it’s a win-win because they get to work a full time job during the day and we send them to Augusta tech 2 nights a week and we pay for it. They do have college credit and they do have a diploma when they get done and they don’t have student loan debt,” Salters points out.

IBEW is not the only group educating people in our area about the skilled labor opportunities here. Just last week, Columbia County students toured a variety of skilled labor sites. GIW Industries was one of the stops.  

“To actually go somewhere and see the work being done and the end product, what’s involved, how specific it might be to this industry, I think that can open [students’] eyes to possibilities maybe they hadn’t considered,” says manager George McCall.

School leaders tell me Georgia Power is very hands-on in our local schools. They offer mentorship opportunities to Richmond County students. Burke County students have Plant Vogtle in their backyard and take field trips to the site to see the jobs up close and personal.

Georgia Power says they are still looking to hire a few hundred more people now as they continue construction on their nuclear reactors. When finished, reactors 3 and 4 are expected to generate enough electricity to power roughly 500,000 homes and businesses.