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State invests $17M in scholarships to address labor shortages

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To address South Carolina’s labor shortages, the state is investing $17 million to provide technical college scholarships to 15,000 adults or high school graduates. 

Gov. Henry McMaster, joined by officials from the S.C. Chamber of Commerce, the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce, the SC Technical College System and others, made the announcement last week, saying the state has to be “proactive in addressing the labor shortage.”

The $17 million investment will create a Workforce Scholarships for the Future pilot program, and McMaster is calling on the General Assembly to provide another $124 million in American Rescue Plan Act to keep the program running through June 30, 2024. 

“This funding will take on the crisis head-on by providing thousands of South Carolinians with the skills needed to thrive in a number of high-demand careers," McMaster said. "With this investment of $124 million into our most important resource — our people — we can ensure that South Carolina will have the workforce needed to attract further jobs and investment from companies worldwide." 

Scholarships will cover the cost of tuition and required fees. They may only be used for associate degrees or industry credentials in high-demand careers, including manufacturing, health care, computer science and information technology, transportation distribution and logistics, or construction, the release said. 

Providing scholarships to train in instrumental sectors will not only improve the state’s pipeline of skilled workers but will be essential to the state’s continued success, said Sara Hazzard, president and CEO of the South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance. 

“The success of any manufacturer starts with its workforce, and in this tight labor market, having the right credentials and skills are necessary to fill high-demand occupations,” she said. “South Carolina’s technical colleges have a strong track record of performance in providing educational and training programs that lead students to meaningful careers.” 

Eligible recipients must be employed or complete either 100 hours of voluntary time at a nonprofit or public-service organization or take a financial literacy course offered at the technical college, the release said.  

Recipients also must maintain a 2.0 grade point average. 

The program will go into effect Jan. 1.

Reach Teri Errico Griffis at 843-849-3144.

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