The South Carolina Skilled Trade Alliance (SCSTA) recently rolled out its plans for creating a workforce pipeline for the Building Construction Trades in the state through a series of informational events in the Upstate region. Held on Tuesday, February 11 at Greenville Technical College’s Center for Manufacturing Innovation, both the morning and evening sessions were well attended – validating the critical nature of the construction workforce shortage in the Carolinas and beyond.
Guest speakers included Mark Farris, President and CEO, Greenville Area Development Corporation (GADC); Jonathan Shanin, Founder and Executive Director, Benjamin Franklin Experience (BFE), and Dr. Jermaine Whirl, Vice President of Learning and Workforce Development at Greenville Technical College. High school student Jason Cassandra, 15, gave a short testimony on what made him want to go into the field of construction. He credits the Benjamin Franklin Experience’s “Construction Day” at CarolinaPower for piquing his interest and introducing him to the possibilities of a management career in electrical construction.
The SC Skilled Trade Alliance was spearheaded by a coalition of local construction industry professionals in partnership with the South Carolina Department of Commerce’s (SC Commerce) Greenville Regional Workforce Advisor on behalf of the Greenville Regional Education Center Advisory Board.
SCSTA’s Advisory Board includes Jay Blankenship, Greenville Regional Work Advisor, SC Commerce; Connie Caldwell, Chair – Carolina Heating Service; Mary-Allyson Chauvin, Vice-Chair – Langston Construction Co.; Kelvin Byrd, Educational Chair – Greenville Technical College; Angela Gardner, Co-Secretary – Hill Electric; Emily Packard, Co-Secretary and Social Media Chair – Arclabs Welding School; Benjamin Brown and Adam Hoots – DPR Construction; Brent Waddell – Johnson Controls; and Jamie Prince – Flourish.
Following nearly a year of ongoing discussions and collaboration, the SCSTA introduced its carefully crafted mission statement: to provide a road map to intentionally ENGAGE, EDUCATE, EQUIP and EMPOWER individuals to create a workforce pipeline in the Building Construction and Skilled Trades Industries.
SC Commerce’s Blankenship talked about the energy and excitement surrounding the official launch of SCSTA. “The initial kick-off event for the South Carolina Skilled Trades Alliance was phenomenal. By addressing the access and opportunities available in the skilled trades, it’s my belief that an effective and strategic connectivity to the trades will be made. The connectivity will provide an avenue for younger generations to gain knowledge and information that will allow them to seek career pathways in the trades that will provide a great quality of life and the much needed talent to remain in South Carolina for the sector,” said Blankenship.
In addition to teaming with construction industry companies, SCSTA’s multi-level approach to solving the workforce shortage for the long-term includes partnering with academia, unemployment agencies, veteran services, re-entry services and community advocacy programs/organizations. A major component of the group’s strategy is to introduce the wide range of careers opportunities in construction to key influencers of potential recruits. These include parents/caregivers, grandparents, siblings, friends/peers, teachers, guidance counselors, church groups, youth associations, sports coaches, and social media.
SCSTA welcomes volunteers with expertise in marketing, IT, data analytics, as well as curriculum development. Other ways to get involved with SCSTA include providing guidance, serving on sub-committees, and participation in activities – such as the upcoming SCSTA Community Expo planned for National Skilled Trades Week. This event is scheduled for May 6, 2020 at Greenville’s McAlister Square.
“We appreciate all the support we received at our launch and are very excited that so many have a real interest in joining us to move our mission forward,” said SCSTA’s Chair, Connie Caldwell.
Connect with the SCSTA at www.scstalliance.org, and follow on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.