South Carolina’s technical colleges provide a resounding “yes” to the question that all industrial prospects ask: Can I count on an available, trained workforce?
Two of those 16 institutions anchor the I-77 Corridor: Columbia-based Midlands Technical College and York Technical College in Rock Hill.
Both schools have a long history of serving students who come to them for training and then successfully seek employment, and of serving companies that come to them to prepare future employees with skills specific to those new or expanding operations.
At any given moment, there are more than 20,000 learners enrolled at the two schools. Some are taking traditional classes en route to transferring out for four-year degrees, while many others are enrolled in the more than 200 programs the schools offer that provide the specific skills that employers are seeking, at the certificate and associate degree levels.
Just a small sample of the degrees and certifications available at Midlands Tech: building construction, mechatronics and precision machining, industrial maintenance, nuclear medicine, teleproduction technology, and residential/commercial carpentry.
York Tech officials can point to their 97% post-graduation placement rate and say their highest demand right now are to fill jobs in manufacturing, information technology, product operations, and industrial maintenance/mechatronics, and for training utility line workers, commercial truck drivers and welders. Automation is another strong suit there.
Both schools participate in the State Technical College System’s three-pronged approach to serving the industrial community: the classes and certifications the schools regularly offer; the Apprenticeship Carolina training partnerships for specific, one-off initiatives; and, readySC, which provides customized recruiting and training solutions that have produced nearly 300,000 qualified employees to thousands of employers since 1961.
Along with identifying and training for the initial skills needed for hiring at a specific business, the schools can provide cost analysis and development of ongoing workforce plans. They also maintain job posting sites and conduct career fairs.
As Stefanie Goebeler, assistant vice president of marketing at Midlands Tech, puts it, “We really pride ourselves on our multifaceted approach to serving business and industry.”
Economic development agencies across the state — including the five counties comprising the I-77 Alliance — work with the schools, and together they work with the S.C. Department of Commerce to ensure prospective employers understand what’s available and how to access those services to jump-start their startups and expansions.
They also can often take the process one step further. For instance, Midlands Tech’s Enterprise Campus at its Northeast location just off I-77 functions as a business accelerator, providing space under roof for offices and manufacturing setup that allows new operations to focus on growth instead of infrastructure. The school also offers sites in the industrial park that hosts its Northeast campus.
Workforce development is a two-way street, and Midlands Tech and York Tech serve both sides of that powerful equation, serving employers and employees alike. Together, they help ensure a promising future for employers and employees who commit their resources and careers to making a successful go of it here in the I-77 Corridor.