South Carolina’s top-of-the-line mobile workshop for skilled trades, Be Pro Be Proud SC, became a reality yesterday. At a launch event held at the State Farmers Market in West Columbia, Gov. Henry McMaster and Sen. Thomas Alexander, R-Oconee County, helped cut the ribbon on this Public Private Partnership that will promote skilled trades careers throughout South Carolina. Carolinas AGC (CAGC) is the only Commercial Construction Association that has been at the table since day one and is thrilled about the endless possibilities the mobile workshop will offer.
The 53-foot, double-expandable 18-wheeler will offer students and parents the chance to learn more about skilled trades and the career opportunities that are abundant in South Carolina, including thousands of well-paying construction jobs now available. Nice and shiny on the outside, the blue, silver and black truck features South Carolina’s palmetto tree and crescent moon logo as well as an array of sponsor names and logos.
Inside, visitors will feel as if they have walked into an upscale arcade where they will be scored on how well they can drive a commercial truck, weld, operate a piece of heavy equipment, and run a forklift. There are also virtual reality games that teach the techniques of carpentry and diesel mechanics. But, most importantly, visitors will walk away with resources and information on how they can begin a career that is essential and in high demand.
The state of Arkansas built the first Be Pro Be Proud mobile workshop in 2016. Since then, more than 98,000 individuals have participated in the 540-stop tour that spanned 285 cities. South Carolina becomes the first state to partner with Arkansas to launch a similar skilled trades mobile workshop.
Yesterday’s event kicks off the 2020-2021 tour that will have the Be Pro Be Proud SC truck visiting schools, fairs, career centers, conventions, and government events across the state. To date, over 30 stops have already been scheduled.
Sen. Alexander talked about the importance of the “coordination, communication, and collaboration” that got us to this point. “This is about workforce, the citizens of South Carolina, and our young people; a way for them to connect their interest and skills with a job that will be a career for them and will help them be productive citizens in their communities. That is what I see when I look at this truck”.
Gov. Henry McMaster, a supporter of skilled trade careers and a proponent of the funding for the truck spoke of the importance of the construction industry and the many other featured trades saying, “We are going to wake up a lot of young people and some older people too after they see, feel, and touch this truck.”
“Wow! What a journey this has been. I could not be more excited for our members in the construction industry, but also for the many, many students who will have the chance to learn more about these skilled trade careers. We hope this mobile workshop will help educate students as well as parents and in turn will begin to build a pipeline of workers for the construction industry,” Leslie Clark, VP of Operations, Carolinas AGC.