In my work with various South Carolina companies, I often hear the question: “What if we train somebody and they leave?” The answer to that is: “What if you don’t train them and they stay?”
An integral part of the SC Technical College System, Apprenticeship Carolina™ is a program that has gained widespread recognition for its work with companies throughout the state to develop and grow their work force through apprenticeship programs.
Such success has resulted in recognition by, among others, the Public Broadcasting Service and USA Today.
The fastest growing segment of Apprenticeship Carolina is the registration of more than 100 youth apprenticeship programs across the state. Youth apprenticeship programs provide high school juniors and seniors a “learn-while-you-earn” opportunity while gaining education at a career and technology center, high school or technical college.
Youth apprentices typically go to school during the morning and work in businesses during the afternoon, weekends and school holidays. The youth programs allow companies to begin to fill their workforce pipelines earlier with talented high school students. In some instances, the students graduate with a high school diploma, credentials from their area of study, and a nationally recognized credential from the Department of Labor.
Apprenticeship programs exist in all of the state’s 46 counties. Each of the state’s technical colleges is an active partner in the programs. More than 60 percent of the state’s apprenticeship programs utilize a technical college for the educational component.
Apprenticeship Carolina is part of the Division of Economic Development within the SC Technical College System, which also includes readySC, a program that provides initial recruitment and training for companies moving to or expanding in South Carolina.
The educational component of an apprenticeship can include associate degrees, customized training, certificate programs and internal training programs provided by companies. This is very important for companies so they can develop programs specific to their needs.
Components of apprenticeships vary from company to company, based on their occupation-specific needs. Apprenticeship Carolina has worked with numerous businesses throughout the state, including major OEMs, CVS, Blue Cross Blue Shield and others. Apprenticeship Carolina consultants work with companies, at no charge, to develop programs.
Work to create the apprenticeship program began in 2007, when the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce saw the need to identify a single agency to help companies register apprenticeship programs with the U.S. Department of Labor. In short, registering the program with the DOL is important because it reflects an employer’s visible commitment to developing a high-quality workforce that meets nationally recognized standards.
Employees who complete apprenticeship programs also receive a nationally recognized credential in their occupation. We couldn’t have had the high number of registrations we’ve had without the cooperation between our technical colleges and the Department of Labor.
It has been a natural fit for Apprenticeship Carolina to be housed with the SC Technical College System, since its colleges serve as the primary educational provider for SC companies. The establishment of a $1, 000 per registered apprentice state tax credit also allows companies a financial benefit of registering programs.
Text by CARLA WHITLOCK, Senior Apprenticeship Consultant for Apprenticeship Carolina