Carolinas AGC (CAGC) is proud to be the only commercial construction association involved in successfully pushing for state funding for a critical skilled trades initiative. It won’t be long before South Carolina begins to see a tricked-out 18-wheeler that serves as a mobile skilled trades workshop, rolling down the interstate and showcasing skilled trades at schools, football games, and fairs.
South Carolina is following in the footsteps of Arkansas, which rolled out a program for skilled professionals called Be Pro Be Proud (BPBP) in 2016. This concentrated effort delivers students, parents and teachers, real information about opportunities that exist across several skilled trade professions.
Leslie Clark, Vice President Operations and Director of Government Relations for Carolinas AGC, and Rick Todd, President of the SC Trucking Association, had a chance to tour the Arkansas BPBP truck when it visited Columbia more than four years ago. After many conversations, the two began to work on making it a reality in South Carolina. It took a while to get the initial funding in place (from the legislature and through donations), but they are expecting to see the truck ready to go live by August 1, 2020.
“Skilled trades are the backbone of the state’s economy and the Be Pro Be Proud SC truck will be the perfect way to showcase those trades to middle school and high school students across South Carolina,” said Clark.
Younger generations have been told that in order to be successful and attain the “American Dream” they must go to college and obtain a degree. But through the Be Pro-Be Proud movement in Arkansas, that perception is changing, and it will now in South Carolina as well.
“The Be Pro-Be Proud truck is going to provide a vision for those considering entering the construction field. By showing a vast array of opportunities for a lifelong and well-paying career, this initiative will have a huge impact on our students, our industry, and our state. I am very thankful for the efforts of the coalition and the SC Legislature to see this to fruition and look forward to seeing great results from this investment,” said Marty McKee of King Asphalt.
“When high schools stopped having dedicated shop classes, the exposure to hands-on skilled trades stopped as well,” added Clark. “We are excited to use this mobile workshop as an opportunity to expose students to the great career opportunities available in the construction industry. The SC mobile workshop will feature two heavy equipment simulators, two welding simulators, a truck driving simulator, and several virtual reality construction stations. The construction industry has reached a critical shortage of workers and we hope the Be Pro Be Proud SC truck, as well as the programs we are pushing through CAGC’s Build Your Career program, will help us begin to address that shortage.”
BPBP: A Public-Private Partnership
Carolinas AGC along with the SC Trucking Association, the SC Homebuilders, the SC Forestry Association and the SC State Chamber of Commerce formed a small coalition nearly three years ago that has worked tirelessly to obtain funding from the state to start a Be Pro-Be Proud initiative in South Carolina. Our groups and other interested industries will make this a true Public-Private Partnership as they all raise money to help propel this initiative forward.
How to Support Be Pro Be Proud SC
The BPBP Coalition is still trying to raise money to fund the simulators and change them out as needed. To contribute, click here.
Main photo: Be Pro Be Proud mobile skilled trades workshop in Arkansas.