Grant will help develop workforce for the future | Opinion | The Press and Standard

by | October 2, 2016 5:00 pm

Last Updated: September 28, 2016 at 11:08 am

The U.S. Department of Labor has made funds available for its Promise Job-driven Grant Program. This grant program is designed to create or expand regional partnerships between employers, economic development, workforce development, community colleges, training programs, K-12 education systems and community-based organizations that make a commitment – or a “promise” – to provide a pipeline of workers to fill existing job openings, meet existing employer needs for expansion, fuel the talent needs of entrepreneurs and attract more jobs.
The SouthernCarolina Regional Development Alliance (SCA), as the lead agency for the SC Promise Zone, assembled a team and applied for $4 million over four years.  Notifications of awards are anticipated later this calendar year.  The SCA-led team will facilitate the offering of middle- to high-skilled certificate and degree programs that are structured to meet the needs of the region’s employers. The grant provides funding tuition assistance, and the partners are expected to develop the types of innovative services necessary to ensure the participants are successful. The sectors we will serve are Advanced Manufacturing (including nuclear and engineering), Math and Computer Sciences,  Health Care (RN and LPN) and Education (teachers). USC-Salkehatchie, Denmark Technical College, Voorhees College, Technical College of the Lowcountry and USC-Beaufort are the initial educational institutions partnered with the two regional workforce boards, Apprenticeship Carolina and SCA’s Plant Manager/HR Association.
The only way we in the SC Promise Zone are going to ensure the economic prosperity of our residents is by J-O-B-S. This is why SouthernCarolina Alliance is leading this proposal to create a partnership between workforce agencies, higher education and our employer community.
“I don’t feel like I have a job. I have a career. A job is working fast food. A career is something you do with pride, something you can pass along to family members,” said Vonie Glaze.
Glaze is one of the welding graduates of the Advanced Manufacturing Skills Training Program, a program that was led by SCA through the USDA and EDA’s Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge grant.  Glaze’s hard work and determination epitomizes the ethic that SCA has been able to create with the individuals who have been fortunate enough to participate in that employer-driven training. This proposal to fund middle- to high-skills training through America’s Promise Job-driven Grant Program represents a broader, regional application of the systemic approach SCA utilized to establish and achieve that program’s goals.
SouthernCarolina Alliance is committed to leading the partnership that will drive this project to success. Through the detailed job demands that our Plant Manager/HR Manufacturing Association have developed, with the workforce studies and data from external and workforce development board resources, we know what jobs are needed and the skills required to fill them. Expanding the capacity and capabilities of our educational partners is a challenge that we are committed to addressing. Then determining the right mix of support services, incentives and assessment to apply to the individuals seeking these jobs is essential. We are confident that the partners for this project can accomplish this.

(Dean Van Pelt is S.C. Promise Zone coordinator.)

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