A partnership of Upstate South Carolina non-profit organizations and area technical colleges has begun offering “absolutely free” training, along with job placement support, to unemployed and underemployed Upstate citizens who “are committed to putting time, talent and effort into the program to produce a better life for themselves and their loved ones,” organizers say.
The free training, valued at more than $2,200 for initial training, and up to $3,700 total for all available training includes additional counseling in financial management, career planning and other factors essential to maintaining and advancing in a career opportunity. After completing initial training, students can gain advanced skills training in several high-demand disciplines including machining, multi-skill maintenance, welding and quality assurance, and in some cases can receive paid work experience with top employers at local manufacturing sites.
The Career Skills Now (CSN) training program is designed to help motivated individuals build careers in today’s rapidly expanding manufacturing arena, and should particularly appeal to individuals and veterans who are unemployed or underemployed in a low-wage job with their current employer, but who want to “take the next step to better themselves,” said John Baker, the program’s executive director.
“This is an opportunity for an individual to change his or her life for the better, and to create opportunities to learn, grow and build a career they can be proud of,” said Baker, who heads up the program. “This is no handout, and we expect the participants who sign up to participate to work hard, attend the training diligently, and be fully committed to this learning opportunity. And for those who do, we expect to place upwards of 80% of the training graduates in quality jobs with more than 30 of the Upstate’s top manufacturers.”
To participate in the program, applicants must possess a high school diploma or GED, be 18 years of age or older, pass drug screenings and a background check, and be a South Carolina resident and US citizen or hold permanent status. Applicants must earn a WorkKeys Silver level or higher Career Readiness Certificate to enter the program. Overall training can be accomplished in as little as six weeks, after which there are ongoing placement opportunities. Average starting pay for those earning the initial training certifications is $16.35/hour.
Training will be conducted at the Upstate campuses of Greenville Tech, Tri-County Tech and Spartanburg Community College initially, said Baker, in “an effort to make this as accessible as possible for individuals who truly want to better themselves.”
The Career Skills Now program (careerskillsnow.com) recently earned national honors from the National Fund’s Partners Council Award for Exemplary Industry Partnership for its work to connect low-wage workers and job seekers with the training and certifications needed to meet the hiring needs of local manufacturers. Since its start, 243 Career Skills Now participants have earned their occupational skills certificate “making them significantly more marketable,” said Baker. Of the 243 participants, 203 have secured new jobs.
Numerous manufacturing organizations are also finding significant value in sending their entry level or lower-skilled associates to the program to enhance training and skills sets, noted Baker. Career Skills Now organizers readily work with manufacturers on shift adjustments for incumbent workers to try to meet the schedule needs of the individuals so they can attend the free training, Baker added.
To apply directly to the program while space is available, visit the Career Skills Now website online.