SCC, SC Works, and the United Way of the Piedmont are embarking on an innovative collaboration
to address the Upstate’s technical labor shortage thanks to a $2.1 million grant from
the U.S. Department of Labor Workforce Opportunities in Rural Communities (WORC) program.
The collaborative project, “GROWsc: Growing Real Opportunities and Workforce in Spartanburg and Cherokee Counties,” will increase the number of qualified workers in high-demand industries by cultivating new experiential learning opportunities and strengthening employment services to assist the previously incarcerated, those with substance abuse disorder, and the economically disadvantaged.
Spartanburg Community College (SCC) will add cutting-edge simulation equipment to its healthcare, manufacturing, construction, and CDL truck driving departments, offering students more hands-on experiences within the classroom. The College will also create new apprenticeship and paid internship programs for students by adding a Work-Based Learning Coordinator to its staff who will work with local businesses to create opportunities where students can receive paid, on-the-job training while in school.
“This grant provides Spartanburg Community College with a unique opportunity to help over 1,000 citizens in Spartanburg and Cherokee counties to secure jobs in high-demand fields that they may otherwise have lacked the skills to obtain,” said SCC President Henry Giles. “The project will also help companies who are having difficulty finding qualified employees during this time of historically-low unemployment rates to build their workforce and continue to grow their impact in the Upstate.”
SC Works Upstate, overseen by the Upstate Workforce Board, will expand on its successful Operation Educate program which offers manufacturing and construction job training through virtual reality simulation inside the Spartanburg County Detention Center. In addition, the program will partner with employers to ensure that detainees have jobs waiting for them upon release. As a result, 89% of Operation Educate participants receive employment immediately following their release. The grant will allow the program to train more detainees in Spartanburg and expand Operation Educate into the Cherokee County Detention Center.
“To make a difference, you have to think outside the box. From a workforce development perspective, we have a win-win program with Operation Educate. It’s a program that changes lives, restores families, and serves as a quality pipeline to meet local employer’s needs. I’m thankful for the opportunity this grant provides to continue efforts in Spartanburg County and expand our impact to Cherokee County,” explained the Upstate Workforce Board’s Chief Operating Officer Dana Wood.
SCC will add a Case Manager to its staff who will work with community partners to
market degree and certificate programs offered by the College to individuals who have
been previously incarcerated, have suffered from substance abuse disorder, or are
economically disadvantaged. Once enrolled, the Case Manager will help to guide these
students through their coursework and experiential learning opportunities.
Finally, United Way of the Piedmont will build on its successful pilot program, “Transportation to Work”, which offers rideshare vouchers to employed individuals who have difficulty securing reliable transportation to work. Vouchers are offered on a sliding scale through a local rideshare company.
According to Hannah Jarret, United Way of the Piedmont’s Director of Financial Stability Strategy, “Transportation can be one of the biggest barriers to employment. We’re looking forward to partnering with SC Works and SCC through GROWsc to provide discounted transportation to school and work which will help residents along the path to financial stability and increase their opportunities to thrive.”
GROWsc will result in over 1500 Spartanburg and Cherokee County residents receiving new or improved employment opportunities by the end of the 3-year grant project.