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Eckerd Connects, Charleston Metro Chamber receive $381,731 workforce grant

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Eckerd Connects, a nonprofit that provides workforce development services in the tri-county region, and the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce have been awarded a Workforce Innovation Grant.

Eckerd Connects provides its services through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, a federal program from the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration.

The $381,731 grant will be used to develop and implement a career pathways model that is scalable, replicable and flexible enough to respond to specific industry needs. The program will target the Lowcountry’s construction industry and serve 48 “youth with barriers,” according to a news release, including young adults who have dropped out of high school and foster care youth.

“Both Eckerd and the Charleston Metro Chamber are laser-focused on creating a training model that is relevant to the specific needs of our local employers,” Amanda Wagner, operations director for Eckerd Connects, said in the news release. “We take great responsibility in developing talent in this region and we’re hopeful that the success of this training model can be replicated across industry sectors in the future.”

Eckerd and the chamber will use their resources to identify current and future needs of the construction industry; fund a second Build a Shed competition; and create an employer match program after the Build a Shed competition ends.

The first Build a Shed competition, held in April, paired seven teams of students from around the region with construction industry professionals to build a shed in seven hours. The teams all used the same blueprint and were mentored by the professionals in safety, quality, planning, scheduling and communication.

“We are thrilled to partner with Eckerd and support youth with barriers in our region,” Bryan Derreberry, president and CEO of the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, said in the news release. “This will be a valuable asset for our construction members as they are searching for employees to fill their high-demand jobs.”

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