Employment partners

Published 12:42 am Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Groups team up to provide students with basic job skills

At a minimum, businesses need employees who can start work armed with basic job skills.

With that in mind, a coalition of nonprofits, businesses and educational institutions has formed to ensure future and current employees get those basic skills and more.

Led by the nonprofit Beaufort County Committee of 100, the Workforce Development Partnership is acting in tandem with Beaufort County Schools, Beaufort County Community College and other teammates to match students with community leaders who can educate them on the job skills they need.

“A good example is how we’re working with Stanadyne right now,” said David McLawhorn, president of BCCC.

Stanadyne’s Washington plant needs skilled people to help manufacture fuel and filtration systems, so BCCC is working with the company to encourage middle- and high-school students to take vocational courses and, later, classes in machining at BCCC, McLawhorn shared.

The partnership also is aiding in a program to put business leaders in front of public-schools students for presentations on what industries require of their staffs.

“Together, this group is able to more clearly identify areas of need regarding employment in Beaufort County,” Don Phipps, superintendent of Beaufort County Schools, said in an emailed statement. “By being involved, Beaufort County Schools can help students have a better understanding of skill sets needed for specific jobs and bring more awareness of careers and career opportunities to the young adults of our community. By knowing what opportunities are here in our backyard, we can help develop workers to have the skills needed to excel. Our focus will always be equally concentrated on work force bound students as well as college bound students.”

The Workforce Development Partnership began as a subcommittee of the Committee of 100, a private nonprofit group the assists the publicly funded Beaufort County Economic Development Commission in recruiting industry.

Buster Humphries, a member of the Committee of 100, started the subcommittee as a way of pooling the resources of education and staffing outfits such as Beaufort County JobLink and temporary employment agencies, related Tom Thompson, head of the EDC.

Currently, the partnership is chaired by Rocky Jacobs.

“The whole idea to try to improve the chance for local people to get jobs in local industry specifically but also for local industries to find qualified workers from Beaufort County,” Thompson said.

Some local industries derive half their work force from neighboring counties, he explained, adding that human-resources managers hire people who meet their criteria, and the partnership wants to make sure the better job candidates are from Beaufort County.

“We’re trying to up the percentage” of Beaufort County workers at some industries, Thompson said.

Perhaps 200 students take part in some aspect of the program in a year’s time, he said.

“It’s been pretty positive,” Thompson said. “They’re getting to hear firsthand what these employers are looking for.”

For more information on the partnership, call the EDC at 252-946-3970.