By KEVIN ENNERS
KENNESAW, Ga. – “The critical issue facing today’s businesses is having a workforce that is globally competitive,” Kennesaw State University President Daniel Papp said Tuesday during a panel discussion entitled “The Impact of International Experience on Local Workford Development.”
Papp said KSU’s goal is to graduate students who are international competent and aware, and who function well in a global economy.
Georgia Commissioner for Economic Development Christopher Carr said the No. 1 priority of all businesses is finding a reliable, well-trained workforce and a state that has a pipeline with these types of applicants.
He specifically addressed the students in the audience by stating, “Millennials are the workforce of tomorrow.”
What is needed to attain global competitiveness? A resounding, collective response from the panel was international experience.
Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Redelet said the Peace Corps can be the springboard to cultivating multi-cultural awareness. Peace Corps volunteers help develop relationships with other countries by improving the lives in many communities around the world. Volunteers help foster the development of stable partner nations.
Validating a country and its people happens through the services performed by Peace Corps volunteers. According to organization’s brochure, volunteers serve more than 60 countries in Africa, the Americas, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East and the Pacific.
The Peace Corps promotes world peace and friendship by offering “a hand up, not a hand out,” said Hessler-Radelet.
Georgia Worksmart, operated by the Georgia Department of Economic Development, is a work-based learning initiative that promotes internships and on-the-job training. Carr said this is another great way to gain international experience.
Worksmart is a key program that helps Georgia companies with their specific workforce requirements. Internationally poised, Georgia is home to the world’s busiest passenger airport, two deep-water ports and a large surface transportation network.
With Georgia exports reaching record levels for the fifth year in a row, companies are looking for internationally experienced employees; those who can relate to the world. KSU students are encouraged to apply for internships offered by Worksmart.
The panel addressed written questions submitted by the audience. Among them were the following:
How do I prepare to be internationally competitive without going overseas?
The entire panel agreed that learning another language was a great start.
Papp chuckled as he recalled a quote he heard in college, “If you speak three languages, you are tri-lingual. If you speak two languages, you are bi-lingual. If you speak one language, you are American.”
Additional suggestions included taking international classes, joining international student groups and taking advantage of university-offered global events.
A fourth panelist, U.S. Sen. Isakson, R-Ga., encouraged students to apply for internships in Washington, D.C., as many government agencies offer international exposure.
Carr suggested internships at Georgia-based international companies like Coca-Cola and participation in programs offered by the World Affairs Council of Atlanta and Young Leaders.
What is the one thing I should know when I leave KSU?
Isakson responded with, “You live in the greatest country in the world … but you should always look to broaden your horizons.”
Hessler-Redelet offered the advice, “Get out of your comfort zone.”
Carr encouraged students to, “Find your passion and get involved.”
Papp suggested to develop understanding and “Think globally, act locally.”
From left to right: President Dr. Daniel Papp, Senator Johnny Isakson, Carrie Hessler Redolent, Christopher Carr, and Dr. Daniel J. Parka (Photo by Carly Bandy)