SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Georgia labor commissioner, Bruce Thompson, in Chatham County to launch a statewide program that will help support those serving a prison sentence acclimate themselves back into the workforce with less stress.

It’s called the “walking the last mile” program and its goal is to remove barriers to employment by providing individualized skills assessments to those leaving prison and transitioning into the private sector.

Commissioner Thompson launched the pilot program during a press conference at the Chatham County jail and says he hopes this program will change the lives of thousands of Georgians and potentially set a precedent for the entire nation, “A historic beginning for our state and our entire nation. Not very often that we build something that could change the trajectory of the lives of thousands. Although this initiative cannot rewrite the many troubling stories of the past, for these participants, we are confident that we can create a happy new chapter.”  While speaking on the state’s labor shortage and a spike in crime rates, he emphasized “the last mile program” will hopefully serve as a solution to both issues.  The initial program will launch in December 2023 from the metro reentry facility in Atlanta and is already gaining support from statewide manufacturers and contractors.

The commissioner along with other Department of Labor leaders traveled over 208,000 miles talking with families struggling to help their family members reintegrate into society as well as meeting with businesses that continue to work finding an equipped workforce necessary to stay in operation. “We can’t wait to see how fast this takes off and how many lives will be changed forever. Everyone is struggling with a workforce, but we’ve never really tackled the opportunity for those leaving incarceration and coming back into the public sector. We believe this is the opportunity to do this. We are going to walk with them while they are in, and we are going to walk with them when they are out,” says Commissioner Thompson. Some of the 12-week program features aimed at empowering participants include:

1. Resume building

2. Mock interviews

3. Personality/skill assessments

4. Skill training

5. Connections with potential employers

6. Exclusive employer interviews

7. Skills and qualifications assessments