Duke Energy grant supports workforce training in Cherokee County

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Shown from left: Henry C. Giles, Jr., president, SCC; Kim Phillips, human resources director, Hamrick Mills, Inc.; Daryl Smith, director of the SCC Cherokee County Campus; Dr. Quincie Moore, superintendent, Cherokee County School District; Rick Jiran, vice president for Community Relations, Duke Energy; Grant Burns, chair, SCC Foundation and with AFL International; and Trudy Hood, human resources manager, Ply Gem. Photo provided.

The Duke Energy Foundation has awarded a $30,000 grant to the Spartanburg Community College Foundation to help high school seniors and individuals pursuing a GED through Cherokee County Adult Education achieve training and gain employment.

About 22 percent of Cherokee County’s population over the age of 25 has no high school diploma or GED, according to a news release.

The grant will help fund a partnership between the Cherokee County School District, the Cherokee County Adult Education program, and Spartanburg Community College to identify students to participate in the Operation Workforce Training program.

“We hear from commercial and industrial customers all the time about the shortage of skilled individuals for positions in general industry in the Upstate,” said Rick Jiran, vice president for community relations for Duke Energy. “It is critical to support programs like this that build a pipeline of qualified workers for the businesses that call our region home.”

Students enrolled in the Operation Workforce Training program will receive 65 hours of training. The program is designed to train 25 students starting this summer with the goal of placing 25 program participants in full-time employment or enrolling in additional educational opportunities by March 2019, the release said.

“This is one of those programs where students can build their path,” said Dr. Quincie Moore, superintendent of Cherokee County School District. “They can begin with training and employment and pursue their degree once they have career experience. It can be a real game changer for them.”

To ensure that students are learning skills that translate into jobs in the regional economy, the program partners with two local employers, Hamrick Mills and Ply Gem.

Both companies will provide plant tours for program participants, as well as formally interviewing and hiring those who successfully complete the program.

“At Ply Gem, we focus our recruiting efforts in Cherokee County; therefore, we want our citizens to have every opportunity available to make them successful when they begin employment with us. This is what the program and grant can accomplish,” said Trudy Hood, human resources manager at Ply Gem.

Kim Phillips, human resources director at Hamrick Mills Inc., added, “This program will give us young, bright, and eager applicants for consideration. Having access to these potential employees has been extremely helpful.”

Cherokee County industries interested in participating as Operation Workforce Training employers, or students interested in the program, should contact SCC’s Daryl Smith at 864-206-2702 or smithd@sccsc.edu.

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