Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College and Denmark Technical College are two colleges from seven statewide to receive monies as part of a workforce training program.

OCtech received $60,000 and Denmark Tech received $58,000 toward the colleges' implementation of the South Carolina Department of Commerce's ManuFirst SC training program. 

A total of $600,000 was approved by the State Workforce Development Board to the S.C. Technical College System to help offer the program,  S.C. Department of Commerce Industry and Community Event Coordinator Karl Krull said at February's S.C. Rural Summit held at OCtech.

Other colleges include Aiken, Florence, Trident, Williamsburg and Northeastern.

The monies will help both OCtech and Denmark Tech continue a program they implemented in 2018.

OCtech graduated its first lean manufacturing class last April with about 30 certificates issued from the Holly Hill area. The program was tailored to student needs as some have other obligations to meet during the times classes are traditionally held.

Denmark Tech also graduated its first class over the past year.

Initially called the lean manufacturing certificate and now ManuFirst SC, it was first developed for Volvo Car USA's Berkeley County plant and is in the process of being expanded statewide both in technical colleges and in high schools.

The 62-hour program -- 10 of which are Occupational Heath and Safety Administration safety hours -- introduces individuals to lean manufacturing and provides safety training where they can receive a certificate in manufacturing helping with job placement.

Industries participating in the OCtech program included: Volvo, GKM Aerospace, Husqvarna, Koyo, Allied Air and Zeus Industries.

The program, which takes about three to four weeks to go through, was taken from the 200-hour South Carolina Manufacturing Certificate Program's 200-hour manual.

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The 62 hours include eight hours of management and safety (not including the 10 OSHA hours); 19 hours of quality awareness; 18 hours of production and processes and seven hours of maintenance awareness.

The certificate is equivalent to one year of manufacturing experience and is recognized by state manufacturers.

To enroll in the program, applicants must:

  • Be a South Carolina resident at least 18 years old.
  • Have at least a high school diploma or GED (documentation will be required).
  • Score silver or better on the WorkKeys/WIN Test
  • Be committed to completing the program. Enrolling in and completing the program does not guarantee employment.

During the summit, Holly Hill Mayor William Johnson expressed his concerns about the program, noting individuals who do have a high school diploma, transportation or perhaps a non-violent criminal background find it difficult to participate in the program.

He noted there were a number of individuals -- about 62 -- in the first class of ManuFirst provided by OCtech in the Holly Hill area but a little more than a dozen or so were able to complete the program.

Krull said the effort to address these individuals needs to be through partnerships with other agencies such as SC Works.

Transportation issues are also being addressed on the state level to improve access to transportation.

In addition to the college level, Krull said there is an effort to add the program for high schools.

Berkeley County School District currently has about five high schools participating in a pilot program for high schools.

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Contact the writer: gzaleski@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5551. Check out Zaleski on Twitter at @ZaleskiTD.


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