The accreditation the Union County Advanced Technology Center has from a regional accrediting organization helps its students obtain financial aid and employment.
In September, Spartanburg Community College President Henry C. Giles Jr. announced the implementation of the SCC Action Plan to educate and train the personnel needed by business and industry in the Upstate both now and in the future.
The plan includes expansion of SCC’s capacity to enroll and graduate more students, both credit and non-credit, and to prepare more students for critical need areas such as Advanced Manufacturing, Industrial Technologies, Engineering Technologies, Business and Computer Technology.
It includes SCC expanding its curriculum to address new emerging careers, such as Logistics, Transportation, Chemical Engineering Technology, Mechanical Engineering Technology, Civil Engineering Technology, Advance Composite Materials Manufacturing, and Data Security.
The Union County Advanced Technology Center is part of the SCC system and as part of the Action Plan, the center is working to expand its existing course offerings and establish new ones.
In October, Site Coordinator Kathy Jo Lancaster announced that the center will offer an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) program beginning in January. Earlier this month, Lancaster announced that in January the center will also be expanding its already popular welding program.
The addition of the EMT program and the expansion of the welding program is due to a combination of the growing need for trained personnel by the health care and manufacturing sectors in the Upstate and the popularity with students of the programs offered by the UCATC that provides that training. That popularity stems in large part from the success SCC and UCATC graduates have in finding jobs in the fields they’ve trained for.
In announcing plans to add the EMT program, Lancaster pointed out that SCC has a 100 percent placement rate for graduates of its EMT program. Graduates of the UCATC’s welding program have enjoyed similar success with finding employment, often immediately being hired upon graduation.
Lancaster said that success of these graduates in finding employment is due to the accreditation SCC — and through it, the UCATC and the programs it offers — has received from a regional accreditation agency.
“Spartanburg Community College, which includes programs offered through the Union County Advanced Technology Center, is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award certificates,” Lancaster said. “The benefits of earning a welding certificate at the UCATC insures a high level of standards set by a regional accrediting body. The program represents quality educational, academic, and industry recognized core competencies which assists potential employers in the hiring process.”
While there are schools that teach welding and other skills, Lancaster said if they lack the accreditation possessed by SCC and the UCATC, students enrolled there can find themselves at a disadvantage, both in obtaining assistance to pay for their education, and, if they graduate, in trying to find the kind of jobs they trained for.
“Students must be careful when enrolling in schools or programs that do not hold regional accreditation,” Lancaster said. “While some unaccredited programs might offer valuable learning experiences not all educational offerings are created equal. Attending an unaccredited program means that students will not qualify for federal financial aid, will not be able to transfer credits to another school, and will not be able to obtain professional licensure in their field.”
Lancaster said this means that “accreditation can make the difference between entering an exciting career path or being burdened with student loan debt and worthless credits.”
To help ensure as many Union County residents as possible gain the skills and accreditation to successfully travel an exciting career path, the UCATC is currently enrolling students for the spring semester which begins on Jan. 12. The UCATC is registering students for its Emergency Medical Care I and II EMT courses which will be offered on the weekends through SCC’s Continuing Education and Health and Human Services divisions. The courses will give students the opportunity to take the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) practical and written examinations upon successful completion of their classes.
In announcing the opening of registration earlier this month, Lancaster said students in the program could elect either to take the certification through continuing education or earn an academic certificate which gives graduates the option to transition into the Paramedic General Technology Associate degree program. She added that students seeking an academic credential may qualify for financial assistance to complete the program.
Lancaster also pointed out that the opportunities for graduates finding jobs in the field are good as employment of EMTs is projected to grow by more than 23 percent over the next decade. She also pointed out that students who pass the NREMT exam are ready to enter the workforce and can earn an average yearly starting salary of $31,000 or $15 per hour.
Earlier this month, Lancaster announced that the UCATC was buying an extra welding machine which will allow the center to increase the number of students it can accept into the welding program in the spring. She said plans are to further expand the program in the fall of 2015, by adding an evening welding class.
Lancaster said that currently there are more students wanting to take welding than there are slots to accommodate them. She said that the popularity of the program is due to the fact that practically every graduate immediately find work, as was the case with the three most recent graduates who, after graduating this month, had jobs.
Employment in the manufacturing sector is projected to grow in the years ahead, both due to the retirement of the Baby Boomers creating vacancies that will need to be filled, and the growing need for welders, both locally and regionally. Lancaster pointed out that, with the skills they’ve learned, welders can not only get jobs welding, but have the flexibility to easily move from one industry to another as needed.
The UCATC and all other SCC campuses will be closed for Christmas after today. The UCATC will reopen Jan. 5.
Even though the UCATC will be closed after today until Jan. 5, Lancaster said those interested in the center and the courses it offers can call and leave messages about their interest at 864-466-1060.
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