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By Willoughby Mariano January 30, 2012

Deal: Tech company needs 200 skilled trade workers

Think twice about going to a four-year college, young Georgians. Gov. Nathan Deal wants you to Go Build.

People are struggling to find work in today’s jobs-poor economy, Deal said Jan. 10 as he outlined his 2012 agenda during the governor’s yearly State of the State address. Yet jobs are abundant in skilled trades, which don’t require four-year degrees.  

Deal’s solution: Go Build Georgia, a major jobs and education initiative that makes students aware of skilled trades and helps train them.

"Right here in metro Atlanta, Siemens has been unable to fill approximately 200 skilled trade positions in the fields of manufacturing automation, health care technology, transportation systems and technical service," Deal said.

They’re having trouble filling 200 open positions? Right here in metro Atlanta?

The state’s unemployment rate is stuck near 10 percent. Please, tell us more, we asked the governor’s office.

"Skilled trade" positions are jobs that don’t require a bachelor’s degree but do require specialized knowledge and training. They include commercial construction workers, pipe fitters, draftsmen and electricians.    

A governor’s office spokeswoman referred us to Siemens for more details about the positions. The company posts job openings on its website.

Some 130 positions were listed for Siemens’ locations in Alpharetta, Atlanta, Norcross and five other locations in the metro area. This number was short of Deal’s estimate by about 70 positions.

Siemens spokeswoman Camille Johnston said that is because not all open jobs are posted. Some are only advertised within the company. Other listings are taken off the website if they have enough candidates. A few have one listing but multiple openings.

A difference of 70 positions seemed high to us, but her explanations did not seem unreasonable. We opted to take them at face value.  

Then we pored over the online listings.

For the most part, they did not advertise positions in the skilled trades. More than 60 percent explicitly required at least a four-year degree, and many of these listings sought candidates with majors in science or technology. One posting was for an attorney.

Even positions that appeared open to candidates without bachelor’s degrees favored employees with four-year degrees or were typically held by people with four-year degrees, according to the listings. One preferred candidates with a Master of Business Administration or other post-graduate degree.

In fact, we found only 12 posted listings that did not require or favor candidates without bachelor’s degrees. That’s about 10 percent of the online jobs listings.  

Most of them were squarely in the "skilled trade" category. For instance, two were for heating, ventilation and air conditioning workers. One was for a draftsman, and three sought field service workers.

Two of them were not. One Atlanta position was for a training assistant who would handle tasks such as billing and scheduling. Another was for an administrative assistant in Roswell.  

We emailed and called Siemens to ask why most of the listed positions were not for skilled trade workers, but we received no response.

Deal spokeswoman Stephanie Mayfield said that regardless of the actual numbers, the state needs skilled workers, and the governor’s office is glad Siemens offered to work with Georgia to solve this problem.  

Siemens may be struggling to fill some 200 jobs in metro Atlanta, but the overwhelming majority are not skilled trade positions as Deal claimed. They’re geared to candidates with bachelor’s or post-graduate degrees.

We rule Deal’s statement False.

Featured Fact-check

Our Sources

State of the State address, Gov. Nathan Deal, Jan. 10, 2012

Email and telephone interviews, Stephanie Mayfield, spokeswoman, Gov. Nathan Deal, Jan. 11 - 19, 2012

Email and telephone interviews, Camille Johnston, vice president, Corporate Affairs, Siemens Corp., Jan. 17 and 18, 2012

Email interview, Catie Campbell, marketing and communications manager, Governor's Office of Workforce Development, Jan. 17, 2012

Siemens USA, jobs and careers page, accessed Jan. 13 through Jan. 18, 2012,

Go Build website, accessed Jan. 17, 2012

News release, "Deal announces initiative for skilled trade industries," Office of Governor Nathan Deal, Jan. 17, 2012

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