A Tradition of Highly Skilled Labor
South Carolina’s Western region has a long tradition of highly technical and technologically advanced work – from the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site, to some of America’s most quality-conscious manufacturers.
Supporting that tradition demands a highly skilled workforce that’s ready to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing economy. Therefore, the region has long placed an emphasis on developing the workers that the business and industrial community needs.
Developing the workforce of the future starts at the K-12 level with career-focused programs such as those at the Career and Technical Center.
To continue growing Aiken County’s workforce, the school district has begun a community workforce development collaborative called Aiken Works. This collaborative encourages business and industry to partner with the school district and provide hands-on experiences for students so that they are able to gain the skills needed to sustain our community’s workforce and economic vitality for many years to come.
Strom Thurmond Career and Technology Center
In Edgefield County, the Strom Thurmond Career and Technology Center offers several innovative programs in addition to enhancing existing programs, such as Automotive Technology and Building Construction Technology.
Saluda & McCormick Middle Colleges
Saluda & McCormick Counties School Districts take advantage of the middle college concept, which is a model that encourages high school students to take college dual credit courses on the Piedmont Technical College campus and earn both high school and college credit while completing their high school diploma. Saluda Middle College students enrolled in this program on average graduate with 48 college hours. As of 2016, 18 students from McCormick High School have earned both high school and associate’s degrees, which is more than any other institution associated with Piedmont Technical College. This program has served up to 30 percent of juniors and seniors and comes at no cost to students, which makes the program unique in Western Piedmont Education Consortium (WPEC). Additionally, the Yarbrough-Jones Scholarship foundation awards scholarships to graduating seniors at McCormick High School. Since 2013, the foundation has awarded a total of 36 scholarships.
Accelerated Learning Through Thematic Programs at All High Schools
Aiken County Public School District’s thematic high school programs exist to expand student learning opportunities.
Aiken High School will be South Carolina’s first Cambridge International School. The Cambridge program was selected as Aiken High’s accelerated learning focus because it will offer every student in the school the flexibility and rigor of an international curriculum in pursuing a Cambridge diploma or taking college-credit courses.
South Aiken and North Augusta high schools are National Math and Science Initiative Advanced Placement academies, and are focused on increased Advanced Placement courses for all students, and more opportunities to earn college credits while still in high school.
Midland Valley High started its Early College program last summer through a partnership with Aiken Technical College. The program allows Midland Valley students to earn an Associate of Arts degree from ATC before graduating from high school.
Ridge Spring-Monetta High will become the Farm to Table Healthy Living School, focusing on health science, business and agriculture programs.
Silver Bluff High, which is strategically located between Savannah River Site and the Cyber Command Center at Fort Gordon in Augusta, GA, will become the Academy of Technology, Engineering and Arts. The goal is to partner with SRS and Fort Gordon and offer students internships and work opportunities in technology and engineering.
Wagener-Salley High will become the Academy of Leadership and Military Science based on its long-time focus on leadership training through its Junior Reserve Officer Training Corp program and its agricultural education program, which includes the Future Farmers of America Leadership development program.
Aiken Scholars Academy
Aiken Scholars Academy is a partnership between the University of South Carolina Aiken (USCA) and Aiken County Public School District (ACPSD) to create an academic school of excellence. The school will provide an elite academic experience for qualified students and is set to open in fall of 2018. The Academy will offer advanced students an engaging educational experience that introduces and then immerses them into the collegiate environment.
The South Carolina Technical College System is dedicated to furthering economic and workforce development in South Carolina. It prepares students of all ages for real work today. Two of the 16 colleges in the state are in our region: Aiken Technical College and Piedmont Technical College. Highly specialized coursework has been incorporated into science and technology, advanced manufacturing, and nuclear science subjects.
Aiken Technical College (ATC) has approximately 3,400 students preparing for careers in business and industry. In 2015, ATC opened its Center for Energy and Advanced Manufacturing (CEAM), a state-of-the-art facility that houses the College’s welding, mechatronics, radiation protection technology and nuclear quality system programs.
Piedmont Technical College (PTC) has with similar professional programs as those of Aiken Technical College. Three of PTC campuses are located within our region (McCormick, Edgefield, and Saluda), and one is nearby (Greenwood). The combined enrollment for all the PTC campuses is approximately 6,200.
The University of South Carolina Aiken (USCA) is a comprehensive liberal arts and science institution and functions as part of the University of South Carolina system, combining the advantages of a small institution with the resources of a major university. USCA attended by approximately 3,500 students, offers 45 undergraduate programs of study, and 3 graduate programs (in business, education, and psychology). Small classes taught by professors – not teaching assistants – afford students one-on-one relationships with experienced faculty, individual advisement, and research opportunities, all of which are connected to the institution’s commitment to helping students achieve academic success. USC Aiken has strong ties with the community and offers a diverse non-credit program of trips, camps, and continuing education for members of the surrounding area. Although the university is strongly linked to the local community, it attracts students from 35 different states, and from more than 30 countries.
The university has been recognized as the top public baccalaureate college in the South by U.S. News & World Report’s guide, “America’s Best Colleges”. USCA has ranked first 13 times, and for 20 consecutive years has been ranked in the top three public regional colleges in the South. USCA also received notable awards for its work with veteran and military students.
Other colleges and universities in the area or nearby include the following institutions:
In addition to the standard coursework available through higher education providers, such as the University of South Carolina Aiken, we work with companies to create customized education and training programs that can be delivered in the classroom, or presented at the employer’s site – and we can identify funding sources to help defray the costs of offering these programs.
South Carolina’s readySC™ program is a nationally recognized training program and prepares workers for new and expanding industries at no cost to the companies. All South Carolina’s technical colleges are partners of the readySC™ program.
Apprenticeship Carolina™ works to ensure all employers in South Carolina have access to the information and technical assistance they need to create demand-driven registered apprenticeship programs.
At no cost to the employer, apprenticeship consultants are available to guide companies through the registered apprenticeship development process from initial information to full recognition in the national Registered Apprenticeship System.
MTU America’s Apprenticeship Program
Through a unique partnership between MTU America, Aiken County School District, and Aiken Technical College, the first-ever registered vocational apprenticeship program for high school students in South Carolina was created. The two-year program began in 2012 and provides high school juniors and seniors with hands-on vocational learning opportunities in a real manufacturing environment. Upon completing the programs, students earn an Industrial Mechanic – Basic certification, which is recognized by both the SC Department of Education and the US Department of Education.
The apprenticeship program has been recognized by the South Carolina Department of Education, the White House, and the Association for Career and Technical Education.
Available Sites & Buildings
If you’re thinking about bringing your business to South Carolina’s Aiken, Edgefield, and Saluda region, we’re ready to accommodate you with a broad variety of existing facilities and ready-to-build sites.
The region’s workforce is consistently growing in both number and skill. In 2014, Saluda and Edgefield Counties became Certified Work Ready Communities. This certification makes communities more attractive to existing and new businesses because it demonstrates that a community is home to a skilled workforce.