The HBA of SC In partnership with Governor Henry McMaster, the S.C. Technical College System, S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce and the S.C. Department of Commerce and other trade associations worked to launch a new initiative, “Be Pro Be Proud S.C.”The goal of Be Pro Be Proud S.C. is to bring a new generation of pride, progress and professionals to South Carolina’s skilled workforce. The initiative was not approved by the House during the budget conference committee, but the HBA will continue to work to bring this initiative to our state.

Today’s skilled professional workforce is aging out and the next generation of new talent is not sufficient to fill the demand. Nationwide, there are an estimated 4.6 million job openings, with approximately 60,000 of these openings here in South Carolina.The majority of these are in skilled technical fields. This gap in our state’s employment can be directly attributed to a lack of knowledge, interest and preparation.

“We must have the workers to do these skilled jobs, and we believe the impediment is that they don’t realize what all is available,” said the Hon. Henry McMaster, Governor of South Carolina.

The initiative will target many key audiences including high school and nontraditional students, current skilled professionals, parents, teachers, career coaches and employers to dispel the myths about skilled trade professions, showcase current skilled professionals’ true vocational pride, highlight the many career opportunities available within these trades and provide necessary resources and training to those interested.

Since 2006, SC has lost 26.8% of all residential construction jobs, which totals almost 17,000 jobs which were predominantly self-employed.The need is great and growing. The S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce estimates an additional 24,000 new construction workers are needed to meet the state’s current building needs.”

The “Be Pro Be Proud S.C.” initiative will use a mobile unit to travel the state and visit schools and events to showcase skilled trade professions and broaden awareness of their impact on our state’s workforce. The “Be South Carolina Pro” mobile unit is an engaging tool that will provide information about training resources, currently available positions and descriptions, skills needed, and how to start the process of starting a skilled professional career (ie. Plumbing, Electrical, HVAC, etc.).

I have been told that only one of three parents says they would encourage their children to pursue construction careers, despite the advanced skills and high pay characteristic of the existing opportunities in the construction industry. “The Be Pro Be Proud SC will offer South Carolinians new insight into the skilled professional workforce requires a team approach that includes employers, schools, elected officials, students and parents who recognize skilled professions for the financial and rewarding career opportunities they are.The HBA will also work to provide apprenticeships in the construction field to help attract and cultivate future talent.

The initiative will include a website, which will serve as a content hub for young professionals to learn more and even find training and job opportunities. Employers can also use the site to actively engage students, current skilled trade professionals can become ambassadors and work with students to spur interest, and parents and educators can arm themselves with the necessary materials for encouraging students to learn about potential career opportunities. Social media channels designed to help keep top-of-mind awareness about the need for skilled professionals will also support the initiative and provide relevant updates during the campaign.

This will be a large undertaking that our Association must lead. It is imperative that we not only satisfy the workforce needs now, but also into the future. I look forward to working with each of you in building a skilled S.C. workforce.