September 5, 2013

Group Wants More Degrees, Upgraded Workforce in SC

Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Business leaders from across the state say they have a plan to give South Carolina's workforce an upgrade.

"What business leaders will tell you is to be able to continue to expand, to continue to attract, then we've got to stay at the forefront of that workforce and the skills gap," said Sonny White, President of Midlands Technical College.

A business led coalition called 'Competing Through Knowledge' hopes to improve how higher education prepares the workforce.

"The way you stay ahead of the curve is having all of these certifications beyond high school," White said.  He believes 65% of the workforce will need some kind of certification beyond a GED going forward.

Members of the board steering 'Competing Through Knowledge' point to companies like Nephron Pharmaceutical and Boeing that now call South Carolina home and need qualified employees.

"We recognize now, economic development, economic opportunity follows talent," said Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin.  "We have to make sure we have an environment where we create the best and brightest."

The group wants 30% of South Carolinians to have a higher education degree by 2030.  They say they'll have a plan on how to get that done by the first quarter of 2014.

"The business community has now been handed the baton," said Columbia Attorney Ken Wingate who says along with leadership, businesses will have to provide funding.

"All of these jobs require skills that are beyond high school or a GED," said White.  "So we have to just keep ramping it up."

 WLXT Columbia