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Hard at Work: South Carolina Attracts Talent

Discover how South Carolina's training programs are strengthening the state's workforce.

By Teree Caruthers on January 27, 2020

South Carolina Apprenticeship Programs
South Carolina / Mic Smith

South Carolina overflows with highly skilled, readily available talent, thanks to its nationally acclaimed workforce training programs. 

A backbone of the state’s workforce efforts is the South Carolina Technical College System (SCTCS), made up of 16 technical schools across the state. Through programs such as readySC and Apprenticeship Carolina, employers have access to skilled, job-ready individuals.

Work Study

“The system continues to be South Carolina’s workforce development engine, offering organizations a wide variety of programs and services designed to enhance the skill level of our state’s workforce,†says Kelly Steinhilper, SCTCS director of communications.

Steinhilper says a technical college education is not only affordable and accessible, but also provides the fastest, most flexible path to the workforce. As the state’s largest higher education sector, the system educates more of South Carolina’s undergraduates than all other public colleges and universities combined. Each year, SCTCS educates and trains more than 250,000 residents.

“In two years or less, South Carolinians can earn the credentials necessary to fill high-demand, high-paying jobs,†Steinhilper says.

South Carolina Apprenticeship Programs
South Carolina / Alan Marts

Trained and Ready

The system consists of three major components that work together to lead workforce and economic development efforts – the colleges’ credit and continuing education programs, readySC and Apprenticeship Carolina.

One of the country’s oldest workforce training programs, readySC has trained nearly 300,000 residents since 1961. Through the system’s colleges, the program offers relocating and expanding businesses customized training to help them build their workforce. Plus, to help match skilled workers with the program’s partner companies, readySC also hosts a job board.

ReadySC helped Fibertex Nonwovens, a nonwovens manufacturer with eight factories around the world,with its workforce needs when the company purchased a production plant in Gray Court from Turkish company Mogul Nonwoven. The program helped Fibertex with its recruitment and training efforts. “ReadySC worked very closely with us on our recruitment efforts, including radio and newspaper ads. They also posted our jobs on their website then created a three-hour training class to be used as part of our interviewing process,†says Gwen Seagraves, human resources manager at Fibertex Nonwovens.

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The Apprenticeship

Established in 2007, Apprenticeship Carolina works to increase the awareness and use of registered apprenticeships in the state. The official liaison for registering programs with the U.S. Department of Labor, Apprenticeship Carolina has enjoyed phenomenal growth, increasing the number of participating companies tenfold since its inception.

Apprenticeship Carolina was the catalyst to start Hartsville-based Sonoco Products Co.’s apprenticeship program. Sonoco is an international provider of diversified consumer packaging, packaging supply chain services and the world’s largest producer of composite cans, tubes and cores.

“During our initial meeting, they took away all of the administrative fear and burden that had kept us from pursuing apprenticeships. They became our partners and liaisons with our technical schools and other companies that were doing well with apprenticeships,†says Andrea White, Sonoco’s manager of global maintenance excellence. “In general, apprenticeships are a great way to create a strong pipeline of talent. Apprenticeship Carolina is helping market manufacturing and the great jobs available to create interest in these apprenticeships. They are helping create ties between companies and local schools where the pipeline begins.”

South Carolina Apprenticeship Programs
South Carolina / Mic Smith

White says the apprenticeship program has been so successful that the company has launched similar programs at its other locations across the country, including a youth apprenticeship program in Hartsville.

“Two of our youth apprentices have now moved into professional apprenticeship roles and are pursuing their industrial maintenance degrees at our local technical school,†she says. “One student had no plans for future schooling after high school and had a different career path in mind, but after the program, he is now getting his two-year degree and continuing his work experience with us.”

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