S.C. tech system gets $200,000 to promote apprenticeships

by Staff

The U.S. Department of Labor has provided the S.C. Technical College System a $200,000 grant to promote its Apprenticeship Carolina and youth apprenticeship programs. Since 2007, the number of apprentice programs in the state has increased from 90 to 786, with more than 15,500 apprentices, a technical college system statement said.

An apprenticeship is a method of employee development that combines supervised on-the-job learning and job-related education. A program “registered” with the U.S. Department of Labor shows an employer’s visible commitment to developing a high-quality workforce that meets nationally recognized training standards. Registered apprenticeship programs also enable employees to receive incremental wage increases as they demonstrate new competencies throughout the training program, the statement said.

Each month, the state program adds about 120 apprentices and registers one or more programs per week, the statement said. South Carolina’s apprentice population is diverse, with 29% female apprentices compared to 6% nationally and 44% minority compared to 35% nationally.

While apprenticeships have traditionally been linked to trades such as construction, electrician and plumber, Apprenticeship Carolina has expanded into sectors such as health care, information technology, tourism and advanced manufacturing.

Susan Pretulak, vice president of economic development with the state’s technical college system, said apprenticeships “can go a long way to bridging the skills gap that so many companies across our state face.” She said the grant “will help us to promote and expand apprenticeship, especially youth apprenticeship programs.”

Apprenticeship Carolina is the Department of Labor’s liaison for registering all apprenticeship programs — both adult and youth — in South Carolina. Nationally, the Department of Labor awarded a total of $10.4 million in Apprenticeship USA State Accelerator Grants to 51 states, territories and the District of Columbia.

In September, the state technical college system’s program was among 11 nationally that received $5 million Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration grants to expand apprenticeships as part of the American Apprenticeship Initiative.