Workforce Development Project Aims to Close the Skills Gap for South Carolina
The Associated Industries of South Carolina Foundation (AISCF) consists of five member organizations that are launching the Be Pro Be Proud SC mobile workshop this Fall to achieve their common goal: attracting more talent and directing them to skilled-trades careers. Only now, the need is more urgent than ever.
Be Pro Be Proud SC was planned long before the pandemic increased the number of jobs available in “essential” fields like transportation and logistics, utilities, construction, and diesel technology. The Department of Labor and Statistics projects the number of these available jobs to increase by nearly 25% over the next ten years.
“Building a workforce that aligns with the opportunities that exist in South Carolina is crucial to the future of our state,” explains Ted Pitts, CEO & President, SC Chamber of Commerce. “Be Pro Be Proud SC brings opportunities in skilled trades and professions across the Palmetto State. We need a workforce for the future, and Be Pro Be Proud SC is the solution.”
AISCF consists of: The South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, The South Carolina Trucking Association, Carolinas AGC, Home Builders Association of South Carolina, and The Forestry Association of South Carolina.
Members of these organizations realized that students must be made aware of the high-paying, skilled-trades jobs available for which training is only a fraction of the cost of a 4-year degree.
The idea for a mobile skilled-trades workshop comes from the state of Arkansas, who launched the first Be Pro Be Proud project in 2016. South Carolina will become only the second state in the country to start a mobile workshop and workforce development project as expansive as Arkansas.
“Now more than ever, the country is seeing the value of skilled trades,” says Leslie Clark, VP of Operations/Dir of Govt Relations, Carolinas AGC. “The mobile workshop showcases the unlimited options of skilled trade careers, and Carolinas AGC is honored to be a part of the rollout.”
The high-profile mobile workshop is a custom-designed, 53-foot, double-expandable, 18-wheeler that will tour events and schools around the state. Inside the well-lit unit, visitors will experience hands-on simulators for commercial driving, forklift operation, diesel technology, utility bucket operation, heavy equipment operation, carpentry, welding, and CNC machine operation.
The construction industry, in particular, is ready to hire, according to Wayne Moore, President of the Home Builders Association of SC: “The SC Department of Employment and Workforce estimates an additional 24,000 new construction workers are needed to meet the state’s current building needs. HBASC is proud to help initiate Be Pro Be Proud SC to raise awareness about the great paying job opportunities in the construction trades and to recruit the next generation of skilled labor in the housing industry.”
Keeping homebuilders supplied with lumber will also be a matter of importance, explains Cam Crawford, President & CEO of The Forestry Association of South Carolina. “The Forestry Association of South Carolina is pleased to support Be Pro Be Proud SC in promoting skilled trade careers such as CDL and heavy equipment operators that are critical to the continued success of the wood and paper products industry in our state,” he said.
Because nearly 80% of South Carolina communities depend exclusively on trucks to move their goods, careers in transportation are crucial, keeping the economy running strong.
“Attracting a steady stream of qualified, entry-level, heavy-duty technicians and drivers has always been a top priority for the supply chain,” says C. Allen Ard, President & CEO of Ard Trucking Company and current SCTA board chairman. “While cycles come and go and the competition is great, this [Be Pro Be Proud SC] collaborative may be the best strategy for a sustainable pipeline for our sectors going forward.”
About Be Pro Be Proud SC:
The Be Pro Be Proud SC project was created to close the gap between job seekers and employers’ needs for a qualified workforce. Taking a unique, targeted approach to removing the stigma from “blue-collar” jobs, its goal is to educate students and the public on the appeal and the importance of these jobs for our economy.
Modules simulating the actual work in various sectors will be housed within the workshop, which will travel throughout the state to schools, fairs, career centers, conventions, government events, military re-entry programs, and more.
Be Pro Be Proud SC is made possible through a public-private collaboration of leaders of the Associated Industries of South Carolina Foundation (AISCF) and the Department of Employment & Workforce (DEW), and other state education, workforce, and economic development agencies. Capital to build the mobile workshop and provide the job simulators comes from the private sector. DEW and other public sectors will fund the campaign’s operation.
Learn more at sctrucking.org/be-pro-be-proud
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