COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) – With a record number of capital investments announced in 2022, state leaders want to make sure there are enough trained South Carolina workers to fill new jobs coming to the Palmetto State.

Members of the House Economic Development and Utility Modernization Ad Hoc committee say they filed their first piece of legislation after months of work.

According to lawmakers on the panel, the bill would streamline the state’s workforce development efforts. The Statewide Education and Workforce Development Act was introduced in the House Wednesday afternoon.

It would establish the Office of Statewide Workforce Development Coordination, a new division of the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW). The Coordinating Council for Workforce Development, currently under the state Department of Commerce, would be moved to DEW.

Sponsors of the bill say it would create a one-stop shop for workers and businesses to access the state’s education and workforce services.

Representative Jay West (R-Anderson) said, “This legislation provides for an annual industry and education supply gap analysis so we’ll know what jobs we have open and how many graduates we will have to fill those jobs.”

The bill also requires the Office of Statewide Workforce Development Coordination to establish a ten-year labor force participation rate goal and a ten-year goal for the number of South Carolinians with a ‘high-quality or post-secondary degree’.

Currently, the state’s labor force participation rate is the fourth lowest in the country.

House Speaker Murrell Smith (R-Sumter) said, “Making sure we invest in our workforce is our best investment with a looming recession and best offense in a booming economy.”

The legislation would also require the office to create an ‘Educational Program Alignment Toolkit’.

Lawmakers said this will serve as an infrastructure of resources to enable the K-12, technical college, and higher education systems to individually and collectively ensure their respective educational programs and curriculum match workforce needs.

The bill has been referred to the House Labor, Commerce, and Industry Committee. Lawmakers said they aren’t sure just yet how much this would cost, a fiscal analysis is underway.