S.C. leaders look at the future of state’s workforce

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Published: Nov. 18, 2022 at 5:21 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - For the last few months – a bipartisan group of lawmakers has been meeting and taking testimony – to try to figure out how to prepare South Carolina for economic success decades down the road.

On Friday, their focus was on how to develop a skilled workforce large enough to support that.

“The most significant challenge for the manufacturing industry is the availability and readiness of our workforce,” said Sara Hazzard of the South Carolina manufacturers Alliance.

That industry makes up around 12 percent of all jobs in South Carolina, according to the alliance.

And it’s growing – like BMW’s announcement last month that it’s investing over $1 billion to expand within the state.

To support that growth – the South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance encouraged lawmakers to support Career and Technical Education programs.

Those teach students trades while they’re still in high school and can line them up for manufacturing jobs after they graduate.

“In the face of the rapid technological innovations that we’re seeing, there’s going to be a marked shift towards demand for a more high-skilled, experienced workforce,” Hazzard said.

Other companies say challenges lie in keeping workers on the job – but one in the Upstate believes it has a potential solution.

SEW-Eurodrive detailed its plans to build a childcare center designed to help more parents stay in the workforce – instead of leaving it because childcare is either unavailable or unaffordable.

“I think we can take this model, we can scale it, not just for the Lyman-Wellford area but all around the state because this need’s everywhere,” said Rainer Blickle of SEW-Eurodrive.

Ultimately – this committee’s work is geared toward developing ideas and recommendations they can turn into legislation.

They’d be able to introduce that as early as January – when the new legislative session begins.