A coalition of home builders, truckers and other groups are seeking roughly $950,000 in the state budget to address a workforce shortfall.
Modeled after an Arkansas program, the Be Pro Be Proud initiative would haul a truck-long mobile career workshop to South Carolina trade shows, career fairs and conferences. It would give career seekers an opportunity—using a handful of workstations—to experiment with equipment used across various sectors.
The group is aiming for a 48-week-long state-wide tour to middle, high and trade schools. The tour would aim to attract workers to the construction, agribusiness, forestry, technology, trucking and other industries.
“We must have the workers to do these skilled jobs,” Gov. Henry McMaster said. Workers don’t know what jobs are available, or the income earning potential those jobs have, the Richland County Republican said.
Jobs start at $30,000 annually, according to Sen. Thomas Alexander, R-Walhalla. But welders can enter the workforce making $45,000 annually and earn six figures as they climb the ranks and add certificates.
Jim Garman, president of the South Carolina Home Builders Association, said many young workers are limited in their job search because they lack training.
“It is so heartbreaking to watch some of these kids trying to get a job and there’s nothing available to them,” said the Hilton Head Island-based builder in an interview.
Garman’s industry needs 24,000 additional construction workers. Clifton Parker, of the South Carolina Trucking Association, said his industry needs skilled maintenance technicians and 48,000 drivers with commercial licenses.
This shortfall can be attributed to the push for most students to attend four-year schools, according to Garman.
Two-thirds of parents think skilled trades aren’t for their children, according to the coalition.
South Carolina construction workers earn an hourly rate of $12.24 on average, according to the jobs site, indeed.com.
South Carolina truck drivers earn nearly $50,000 on average annually, according to the jobs site, glassdoor.com.
“The jobs are there,” said Marty McKee, vice president of King Asphalt. “The work is available.” These jobs may be suitable for students not wishing to take on the debt required to attend a four-year college, he said.
Some members of the group hope to gain ongoing funding for the initiative through a recurring line item in the state budget.
Funding is included in the Senate version of the budget. The House has not yet funded the initiative.