Building A Workforce Of The Future

South Carolina is leading the nation with 39 certified Work Ready communities. #SCworkforce

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South Carolina is facing a Skills Gap. The Chamber wants to close that gap.

According to the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce, “critical needs” jobs account for 45 percent of the workforce while only 29 percent of people have the necessary skills to fill these jobs. 

In a 2015 a survey, 225 South Carolina business leaders across the state were asked what keeps them up at night? in their quest to remain competitive. Here were their responses:

  • Finding qualified, skilled workers
  • Finding workers with a good work ethic
  • Finding workers with soft skills and communication skills
  • Finding workers with problem-solving  and critical thinking skills
  • Retaining good workers

South Carolina is facing staggering workforce demand. It stems from an ever-increasing call for high-skilled workers, an aging workforce fast approaching retirement, and the considerable growth we’ve seen in new and expanding business and industry in South Carolina. 

Since 1989 the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce has been the voice advocating for the necessary improvements to our training systems to ensure an available, capable, productive, and sustainable workforce.  Here are some of our successes:

  • In 2016, after eleven years of the S.C. Chamber pushing the issue, the Legislature passed H. 4145 creating the Coordinating Council for Workforce Development, chaired by the Secretary of Commerce.   The new Council is charged with developing and implementing procedures for coordinating efforts to prepare the state’s current and emerging workforce to meet the needs of the state’s economy.   A representative from the business community, appointed by the S.C. Chamber of Commerce, sits on the Council.
  • In 2014 we lobbied successfully for The Read to Succeed Act that required students entering pre-K and kindergarten for the first time be administered a readiness assessment.  The Act also required that 3rd grade students who fail to substantially demonstrate reading proficiency be held back with the option for students to attend special summer reading camps to get back on track.
  • In 2014, after 5 years of efforts, the General Assembly passed Act 155 requiring students entering the eleventh grade to be administered ACT WorkKeys® assessments.  All 11th-grade students in South Carolina now take a test that measures a range of essential work skills.  They get an assessment-based, employment credential that they can show to prospective employers to demonstrate their qualifications. More than 1,500 employers throughout South Carolina recognize this National Career Readiness Certificate.
  • In 2012 the SC Chamber of Commerce worked with the Technical College System to develop a Statewide Manufacturing Skills Certification Program (SCMC) that is now offered at each of the state’s sixteen technical colleges. The 200 hour certificate program prepares a portion of the SC workforce for entry-level positions in the manufacturing industry.
  • In 2002 the SC Chamber of Commerce began work identifying ways to improve the results of our state’s public school education.  The culmination of that work was the passage of The South Carolina Education and Economic Development Act (EEDA) of 2005.  This was comprehensive, reform-focused legislation that addressed workforce development through student-centered education reform. The Act allows businesses and schools to work more closely to ensure more of our state’s students complete high school better prepared to transition into employment, further training, or postsecondary study.

SC Chamber Taking Action

Educating our students is the first step to building a successful workforce of the future.

Chamber Homework Centers: Our Homework Centers provide a safe, supervised and structured learning environment to strengthen student’s academic skills.

2025 Education Goals

Click here to read the 10 education and workforce-related goals the SC Chamber is striving to achieve by 2025.