ANDERSON, S.C. (WSPA) – Governor McMaster has announced the launch of training opportunities made available by the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Funds Tuesday.
McMaster and speakers gave an overview of the partnership between South Carolina’s technical colleges and the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce, (S.C. DEW) designed to provide training opportunities for unemployed individuals in the state.
Anyone receiving unemployment benefits in the state, are eligible for the free career training courses.
$8 million through GEER, will provide scholarships to cover the cost of training, as well as required course material and any assessments.
“All they have to do is apply. This particular program is for those who are unemployed claimants because they’re in the computer. They’re in the system at the Department of Employment and Workforce. This kind of thing is available to others as well, but it is tailored for those who are unemployed now and are in the system,” said Gov. McMaster.
According to S.C. DEW, there are 87,000 people currently drawing unemployment benefits in their system. Leaders said the goal is to get them back to work.
“The only negative is we still got 87,000 people drawing unemployment benefits. We got more than that filing, but that’s how many are receiving checks every week. Their future is in jobs. Unemployment is not a career. Jobs are where you get a career, and we’ve got to figure out how to get those 87,000 people back to a job, rather it’s directly or through training,” said Dan Ellzey, Executive Director, S.C. DEW. “So we will be pushing hard all of the people on unemployment to either get a job or either move into the training,” Ellzey said.
People who receive unemployment benefits can take the training courses in the 11 programs within the initiative.
“This initiative that we’re talking about today will provide quick, in other words 16 weeks or less training in high demand careers. What we’re trying to do is match up unemployed people with the skill sets needed by our employers across the state of South Carolina,” said Tim Hardee, President of SC Technical System. “We’ll use that to cover the tuition for these people who would enroll in our 16 colleges across the state,” he said. “They’re in career fields like healthcare, IT, transportation distribution, logistics, construction, advanced manufacturing,” Hardee said.
Officials said the program will lead to an industry-recognized credential or certificate. People can also have a high placement rate in critical workforce areas, according to a press release.
A release also said unemployment claimants will have the option of exploring the short-term retraining programs offered at their local technical college in lieu of conducting the weekly work search. Upon enrolling in and attending a short-term training program, the claimant continues to forgo the weekly job search.
“As the federal unemployment programs come to an end on June 26, 2021, we want to ensure that claimants have access to all options involving training and employment opportunities. If someone is ready to make a career change, exploring the state technical college programs should be your first step,” Ellzey said. “And, our agency is making this training more accessible to people who remain on South Carolina unemployment insurance by relieving those claimants of the weekly work search requirement if they participate in the training,” he said.
“Well those that are not in this system can also obtain the training at their technical college, but as I mentioned, there will be more funds available. And if this works as well as we are confident that it will, we are hoping that this will be a permanent part of our career process in South Carolina,” Gov. McMaster said.
Ron Bryant, Director of Transportation Division at Tri-County Technical College said employers are always looking for workers.
“I mean my phone rings everyday. They waiting on…Ron how many graduating today. How many graduating this week,” Bryant said. “I’ve had some people come out here on the pad as you saw today, watching them do some backing and soon as they can see them backing up, they hand them an application and off they go. So that’s what we’re proud of, is giving these individuals that opportunity,” he said.
Officials said this opportunity is critical in the state’s economy.
“Technical colleges across the state of South Carolina, play a critical role in our state’s economy, by providing an accessible, affordable, and high-quality education,” said Galen DeHay, President at Tri-County Technical College.
“This uses the power of this college here. And combines it with a workforce that is available and looking for work,” Gov. McMaster said. “So what is the missing thing that we must do, is we must get them trained and educated to move right on up that ladder,” McMaster added.
Claimants will receive specifics about the program this week via email from the S.C. DEW.
“The GEER funds that the government provided are available through September of 2021. So we have a period of time to use those, but we certainly want people to come in as soon as possible and get started in the classes,” Hardee said.