Governor Henry McMaster, Annual Business Speaks Forum
“We have enough people, we just have to get them on track.”
Brian White, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee
An Emerging Trend
The disconnect between current workers’ skill set and the skills needed for many jobs is a common concern in South Carolina and across the country. One solution to bridge the gap comes from work-based learning experiences. This term is used to describe many learning experiences such as cooperative education, internships, mentoring, registered apprenticeships, service-learning, and job shadowing. Regardless of the name, programs providing work-based experience have been on the rise, offering students the skills needed for employment and offering business and industry a way to secure a future workforce.
A Success Story
Cole Quinn is a college student serving in a work-based experience program through Apprenticeship Carolina™, a division of the SC Technical College System. In his senior year of high school, Quinn began dual enrollment at Daniel Morgan Technology Center in a two-year mechatronics program and was selected to participate in the first Registered Youth Apprenticeship program for Benteler Automotive’s North American operations. During that year, Quinn completed most of the general education requirements towards an associate degree in mechatronics. In addition to gaining desirable work experience while earning a wage, the apprenticeship program offered the added benefit of fully-paid tuition and books if a minimum GPA of 3.0 was maintained. Quinn’s success in the program led Benteler Automotive to continue the Junior Apprenticeship program in their Spartanburg plant as well as expand the apprenticeship model in their other North American plants. When asked about his experience, Quinn stated, “Students gain job experience while going to school. It helps you gain real-life experience. Everyone can get the degree, but the experience is what sets me apart from the rest of the people my age. The apprenticeship definitely put me ahead of the game.”
Cole Quinn is a STEM student and employee in a STEM field. Within two years of graduating from high school, he will have:
gained experience working collaboratively.
increased his problem-solving ability.
learned the importance of constructive feedback.
secured job-applicable experience.
earned a degree.
Upon completion of his apprenticeship, Quinn will be hired as a full-time employee for Benteler Automotive filling one of those jobs referred to by Governor McMaster. Cole Quinn personifies the Profile of a South Carolina Graduate.
Supporting Alternative Pathways
While pursuing a 4-year degree is still essential for some career paths, it is no longer the only pathway to a successful career. Educators can help by encouraging students to broaden exploration of post-high school educational options by:
encouraging students and parents to consider and value alternative educational opportunities.
being intentional about providing students information on technical and 2-year degree programs.
creating opportunities for students to explore real-world job applications related to the curriculum.
partnering with local industry to identify skills needed in today's workplace.
informing students of opportunities to participate in work-experience programs.
Educators are invaluable resources to students and parents in navigating the multitude of pathways to successful careers and/or college readiness. Consult the Work Based Learning Implementation Guidelines published by the SC State Department of Education to gain further tools to support your school in raising awareness of the benefits of apprenticeships and other work-based-learning. These opportunities offer viable career options for students while fulfilling a need for business and industry. It’s a win-win.