January 21, 2018
The time is right to be searching for jobs locally in the industrial sector.
“The economy is very strong; we have not seen this high level of employment since 1999,” said Will Williams, president and CEO of the Economic Development Partnership of Aiken, Edgefield, McCormick and Saluda counties. “We’re constantly hearing that companies are looking for workers. There are jobs out there for all levels of skill. I don’t know of anybody that is downsizing.”
While discussing the overall hiring trend in the Aiken area’s industrial sector, Williams also mentioned specific developments at several businesses.
“Last year, Carlstar (The Carlstar Group) had an expansion and new jobs were announced,” Williams said. “BAE Systems had an expansion and announced new jobs. ASCO Valve had an expansion announcement last year, and they’ve almost finished hiring. And Ambiopharm is looking for people.”
There also are a lot of jobs available at the Savannah River Site, or SRS, which is the largest employer locally.
“They hired almost 600 people last year,” Williams said.
While the robust economy is a major factor, it’s not the only reason why businesses are eagerly seeking workers.
“With the transition of some baby boomers into the retirement phase of their lives, there are backfill situations occurring in addition to companies expanding,” Williams said. “Someone retires, there’s still a job and somebody has to be found to refill it. In addition, there’s normal attrition, when people leave their jobs for whatever reason.”
To qualify for most of the positions in the industrial sector, a secondary school education isn’t enough.
“Seventy percent of the jobs require more than a high school diploma, but less than a four-year degree,” Williams said.
But in some cases, companies are willing to hire and then provide training to people who meet certain criteria.
“Bridgestone has a specific interview process, and they’ll train you to do what you need to do,” Williams said. “They just want to make sure you have the right mindset.”
The right mindset, he believes, also is important to many other businesses.
“You need to have a good work ethic,” Williams said. “And typically, you need to have a good attitude and be able to show up at work on time. You also need to be able to pass a drug screen.”
At Dumpster Depot, a small business that is part of the local waste management and recycling industry, business is booming.
“We’re having tremendous success right now,” said Dumpster Depot founder Norman Dunagan. “We have a 30 percent annual growth rate, and just since the first year, we’ve hired three new employees.”
In addition, new tax laws are boosting Dunagan’s optimism, which is an incentive for him to expand Dumpster Depot’s staff.
“This is going to be one of best business climate years that I’ve in a long time,” he said. “They (the new laws) are giving me confidence that I can predict what my profits are going to be.”