Whether they’re learning how to raise chickens, whip up a hollandaise sauce or master advanced coding, Greenville’s students have an advantage when it comes to finding a job, preparing for advanced training or going to college.
The foundation of Greenville’s talent development is its nationally recognized public school system, the largest in the state. In addition to traditional educational paths, students can begin to prepare for the work world even before they graduate.
“My goal is to get our students as fast as we can into the (hospitality) industry, but we’re also building a pathway to culinary school,” says chef Alan Scheidhauer, who leads the new Truist Center for Culinary and Hospitality Innovation. The center, which opened in 2020, is part of Greenville Technical College, which offers degree and certificate classes across many disciplines.
The center is designed to help high school students enter the culinary industry. Through its Quick Jobs training programs, high school students are able to master the basics of restaurant work – from baking and knife skills to serving and restaurant etiquette – in just 90 days, enabling them to go right to work in a field hard-pressed for workers in Greenville and across the country.
A Place for Everyone
Scheidhauer is especially proud of the center’s partnership with West Greenville School, whose students face behavioral, academic and mental health issues. Located next door to West Greenville, the center launched a nine-month culinary training program for the school’s students. With the help of a $9,200 grant from Leadership Greenville 47, the school built raised garden beds and a large chicken coop, where students raise vegetables and eggs to use in the kitchens.
“I have this feeling there’s a place for everyone in this industry, whether you’re cutting vegetables, washing dishes or serving. There’s something for everyone to do,” Scheidhauer says. “When our students finish school, I want them to have been directed toward something for their futures.” With its well-equipped facilities and enthusiastic professional staff, the center, in addition to its primary purpose as an educational/workforce development engine, has become a popular hub for the West Greenville community, which enjoys recreational cooking classes, socializing, tastings and corporate events there.
With an eye toward building the technology sector workforce, business and education are partnering in innovative ways in the area. Greenville Technical College has combined forces with Greenville County Schools and T-Mobile to pave a pathway for students with a technical bent.
Right now, there are an estimated 1.4 million well-paying but unfilled jobs for full stack developers (people who can program both client and server software) in the U.S., with an average salary in this region of $50,000. Through the Greenville Chamber’s LaunchGVL initiative, high school juniors may receive a paid internship at the tech giant while still in high school. Students in the certificate program take intensive coursework at GTC through the Full Stack Developer program. After a full year at GTC, they may apply to be fast-tracked into T-Mobile as a junior engineer or junior software developer.
“Our goal with these programs is to get these kids interested in technology, whether they go into fast-track programs or go to college,” says Dale Bennett, T-Mobile recruiting manager. “We want to keep them involved to help those graduation rates continue to increase. We want to bolster women in engineering as well.”
The program, in its first year in Greenville, is already popular. The original plan to offer 10 internships was expanded to 13 when applications hit the 50 mark. Next year, Bennett says he hopes to enlarge the program – and deepen its effect on the Greenville community.
“We hope other companies can mimic this, and maybe do something like it even in other areas,” he says. “It would be great if other organizations see this and want to be a part of it, which will make a bigger impact in the Greenville community.”