Greenville Grows Top-Tier Talent

Innovative academic programs prep Greenville students for top careers.

By
Kevin Litwin
On Monday, October 26, 2020 - 14:13
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Greenville is a community of many talents, and access to a deep pool of skilled workers is one of its key advantages. 

While Greenville has done an enviable job attracting talent, it has done an equally impressive job growing it. Its standout schools, higher education institutions and corporate community are frequent partners on efforts to align coursework to skills needed in emerging fields and show students pathways to promising careers that keep them in the region.

One of those partnerships is LaunchGVL, a Greenville Chamber and Greenville County Schools initiative to connect high school students with paid internship work opportunities in the area’s high-demand occupations.

Paired with relevant coursework, students launch their careers in one of six pathways so they can enter the workforce and college more equipped to succeed. The pathways are: arts, communication and information technology; business, marketing and management; environmental and agricultural systems; health science; human resources and services; and industrial, manufacturing and engineering systems.

One of the first students involved with the LaunchGVL program was Kennedy Williams, who graduated in 2020 from Wade Hampton High School in Greenville. During the summers of her junior and senior years, she worked a paid internship at ReWa, a renewable water company in Greenville that provides wastewater treatment services to Greenville County.

“I’m interested in environmental systems, so ReWa was a perfect company for my internship,” Williams says. “I started at ReWa doing things like creating spreadsheets and designing presentations for meetings, then I worked at their water treatment plant doing research and field work, which I really like.”

Williams, who enrolled at Howard University in August 2020 to major in environmental studies with a minor in business management, says LaunchGVL is “an awesome program.”

“One of the biggest things I learned was valuable soft skills, like being on time, wearing business-appropriate clothes and conducting myself in a professional manner,” she says. “Those are valuable workplace lessons for people my age to learn.”

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Greenville Chamber

Fountain of Knowledge

With an enrollment of more than 70,000, Greenville County Schools is the largest school district in South Carolina and the 49th-largest in the U.S. The growing district is adding new programs and new facilities. Fountain Inn High School, slated to open in August 2021, will house the Institute for Automation and Engineering, allowing students to study in six pathways – biomedical engineering, computer science, informatics, integrated production technology, mechatronics or pre-engineering – as part of their curriculum to connect with area business and industry.

“The city of Fountain Inn already has many advanced manufacturing and engineering companies, so the institute will reflect that,” says Maureen Tiller, principal at Fountain Inn High. “Each student will eventually graduate Fountain Inn High with an industry-recognized certification within one of those six pathways.”

Tiller says her school will work closely with Greenville Technical College (GTC) to advance the institute program even further.

“The goal is to get students thinking about careers and hopefully keep them in the Greenville area once their actual careers begin,” she says.

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Greenville Technical College

Real World Robotics

Growth in the region’s technology-driven industries has also spurred partnerships between industry and higher education institutions. For example, GTC and KUKA Robotics team up on a program that lets students train on similar robots to those being used by several area employers, thereby offering a fast track to career development.

Abul Hasan, director of the Center for Manufacturing Innovation at GTC, notes that KUKA robots are used in thousands of advanced manufacturing plants around the world in the aerospace, health and automotive sectors, including at Greenville area companies like BMW.

“Very few colleges in the nation offer the high level of robotics training that Greenville Tech provides,” Hasan says.

If you'd like to learn more about the Greenville area, check out the latest edition of Greenville, SC: Live Here. Love Here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kevin Litwin is the author of Crazy Lucky Dead and a freelance feature writer with a career spanning more than 20 years.