SC Chamber Announces Workforce Innovator Awards Winners at 2018 Workforce Symposium

Staff Report From South Carolina CEO

Wednesday, October 31st, 2018

The South Carolina Chamber of Commerce is proud to announce the small, medium, and large employer award winners for this year’s Workforce Innovator Award. The winners represent the Chamber members who have used their own resources and ingenuity to implement private sector workforce development solutions to address the skills gap and help create a South Carolina workforce of the future.  The following businesses was awarded at the 2018 Workforce Development Symposium, hosted in partnership with South Carolina Department of Education and Workforce, South Carolina Workforce Development Board, the SC Technical College System and presented by Bank of America.        


Small employer: Dennis Corporation

Dennis Corporation recognizes the unique value of internship programs and on-the-job training opportunities in mentoring students for a career in the engineering, surveying and construction management professions by fielding two programs: the Student Internship Program and the Business Mentoring Program. Candidates for the Student Internship Program are recruited from high schools, universities and career fairs.  Business Mentoring Program candidates are recruited from two specific core groups of disadvantaged and minority individuals. These groups include local high school students who may not be academically prepared or financially able to continue their higher education, and local residents, either employed or unemployed, seeking a career in an engineering-related field. By implementing this dual program, Dennis Corporation has reached a broad base of candidates.

Once an individual has decided to accept a formal mentoring position, the process of identifying the developmental assignments begin. Civil engineering, especially the business of designing and constructing public infrastructure, is a diverse field. These interns, who work for different divisions of the firm, gain important experience from hands-on work that they cannot receive in school. Both programs require individuals to work with each department, whether it be engineering, surveying, construction, or even marketing, so that participants can fully understand the day-to-day activities of an engineering firm.

Medium employer: Volvo Cars US
In 2015, Volvo Cars chose Berkeley County for its first manufacturing facility in the US and announced the creation of nearly 4,000 jobs. Recognizing that many in the rural areas of the Lowcountry lack manufacturing experience, Volvo Cars partnered with the SC Department of Commerce, Trident Technical College, readySC, and Berkeley County Administration to develop a curriculum that would provide the necessary training for those without manufacturing experience and satisfy Volvo’s one-year manufacturing experience requirement.

The ManuFirst SC initiative, created in mid-2017, is a 62-hour curriculum that was originally piloted through Trident Technical college that has now been expanded to all technical colleges in the state of South Carolina, and will be available at all Berkeley County high schools starting in the 2018-2019 school year. As of May 1, Volvo Cars has hired 26 ManuFirstSC graduates, and six more have received offers for a manufacturing career with Volvo. In addition, other manufacturers in South Carolina, including Mercedes Benz, BMW suppliers and 46 others have agreed to accept the ManuFirstSC credential in lieu of one year’s manufacturing experience.

Large employer: MAU
In 2014, MAU saw a lack of trained candidates for material handling/forklift positions for many of its clients. To meet the need, MAU developed its Skill School as a solution for its clients. Under the direction of MAU President, Randy Hatcher, a cross-departmental team was created for the planning of a Skill School. Members of the team included those from MAU’s internal operations team, business development, marketing, safety, as well as the on-site team representing the initial Skill School client site. MAU also partnered with clients when developing the curriculum to ensure it would be adequately comparable to the training previously provided at manufacturing facilities. This has led to an approach of providing training for both individuals with and without prior experience, with three separate courses catering to different existing skill levels.

Skill School was originally created in warehouse space behind MAU’s Greenville, SC, building in 2014. However, as the need for trained forklift drivers has only continued to increase, in 2017, MAU made a significant investment in a larger building offering 22,500 square feet of training space. To date, Skill School has trained well over 3,000 people for various Upstate companies. In addition to promoting the facility through a Grand Opening event, extensive content has been created to bring awareness and education about the MAU Skill School and share with both existing and prospective MAU clients.

*Business size definition: Small Employer: Less than 200 SC employees; Medium Employer: 200 to 999 SC employees; Large Employer: 1000+ SC employees.