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New program looks to increase skilled labor

Human Resources
Travis Boland
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Members of the Associated Industries of South Carolina Foundation gathered in front of the Statehouse Tuesday to tour what may be the newest workforce recruiting tool to roll through the state.

An inside view of the tractor trailer featuring workstations for different professions. (Photo/Provided)A tractor trailer features a mobile command unit that students tour in order to see the benefits of becoming a professional at a number of different workforce employments. The initiative, which began in Arkansas, is called “Be Pro Be Proud,” and its goal is to bring pride, progress and professionals to a skilled workforce.

According to Cheryl Stanton, executive director of Department of Employment and Workforce, South Carolina is dealing with a skills gap.

“Fifty percent of our jobs require more than a high school education, but less than a four-year degree, yet only 29.5% of the state’s population fits that category,” Stanton said. “We’re working with businesses, agencies and educators to identify where the gap is, and find out what skills and training need to be done.”

Stanton said her group wants to create a talent pipeline for businesses, and this new initiative will be an recruitment tool.

Gov. Henry McMaster said the program said a good strong workforce is central to great prosperity in South Carolina.

“This program will take the message to the people, and we will be inundated with workers young and old wanting to fulfill their dreams of being a professional,” McMaster said.

The program is estimated at costing $950,000 which the Senate has put into next year’s budget. The House will also have to agree to put up the money before the program can take effect.

McMaster said often students are not aware of the jobs that are available to them, and he hopes this program will shine a light on the possible opportunities around the state.

“The good news is, the jobs are there, we just don’t have the skilled workers to fill them,” McMaster said.

James Garman, president of Home Builders Association of South Carolina, and Clifton Parker with South Carolina Trucking Association both spoke of the needs for skilled workers in the state.

“Since 2006, South Carolina has lost 26.8% of all residential construction jobs, that totals close to 17,000 jobs, predominantly self-employed,” Garman said.  “The need is great and is growing, DEW estimates 24,000 new construction workers are needed to meet the state’s current construction needs.”

Parker said his group’s biggest need is drivers with commercial licenses (CDL) and skilled maintenance workers.

“The American Trucking Research Institute estimated that we need 48,000 CDL drivers just to make us whole,” Parker said.  “It’s projected to be 175,000 by 2024, that’s critical. There is no part of our economy that doesn’t get touched by our workforce.”

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