Last Friday, Georgia Justice Project joined an informal Legislative Occupational Licensing Taskforce for a second meeting around reducing barriers to licensing opportunities for Georgians with a criminal record. The taskforce is led by Senator Brian Strickland (R-McDonough) and was hosted by Representative Patty Bentley (D-Butler) who is herself a licensed funeral home director. Our sincere thanks to these legislators for supporting this effort!
With Georgia’s unemployment rate at an all time low (2.8%), a tight labor market is only getting tighter. As employers throughout the state are feeling the effects of a workforce shortage, the challenge to fill positions in quickly growing licensed fields is particularly acute. Due to many barriers to occupational licensing imposed on Georgians with a record, a significant portion of our state’s population may be blocked from careers requiring licenses – meaning employers are unable to capitalize on a skilled group of workers ready to fill open positions.
Occupational licenses are more prominent than you may think – 1 in 7 jobs in Georgia require an occupational license, and they can be a barrier to well-qualified individuals obtaining good jobs and long-term careers. Every licensing applicant with a criminal record risks denial because of their record, even if it is old, pardoned, or expunged. Because 40% of adult Georgians have a criminal record, many Georgia citizens are barred from obtaining their license.
GJP is dedicated to reducing barriers to gainful employment for Georgians impacted by the criminal legal system. For more information on GJP’s advocacy work around occupational licensing, check out our policy agenda.