Aiken Technical College Announces New ManuFirst SC Certificate Program
Nikasha N Dicks
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Aiken Technical College Announces New ManuFirst SC Certificate Program

Program to provide free training for qualified SC residents

South Carolina residents interested in a career in manufacturing will soon be able to participate in free training at Aiken Technical College.

The College has received nearly $60,000 in grant funding from the State Workforce Development Board to implement a ManuFirst SC Certificate program to provide free training to SC residents who are unemployed or underemployed.

“The importance of this program is to provide individuals who want to develop a long-term and lucrative career in manufacturing with the knowledge, skills, training and credentials to then be viable candidates for employers,” said Dr. Steven Simmons, ATC’s Dean of Business, Computer Technology, and Training.

According to the SC Department of Employment and Workforce, there are more than 2,400 Aiken County residents who are unemployed, and an additional number who are underemployed.

In a recent, brief survey conducted by ATC, several manufacturing companies located in the county are anticipating the need to hire, in total, at least 340 employees in 2019.

“We are at a critical point in workforce development. Our manufacturers have more job openings than there are available qualified applicants. We also know there are individuals who want to be employed within our manufacturing community, but do not have the required skill sets,” said Will Williams, President & CEO of the Economic Development Partnership which has collaborated with ATC for this initiative. “ManuFirst SC is a dynamic program that will benefit both our manufacturers and those seeking manufacturing jobs. It has been successful in other parts of South Carolina and I am excited about the potential this program has for Aiken County.”

The ManuFirst SC Certificate program consists of 62 hours of coursework that lead to an entry-level advanced manufacturing certification. During the training, students learn about safety, quality practices and measurement, manufacturing processes and production, maintenance awareness, and OHSA-10.

Several area companies are already partners with the College for this initiative: AGY, Aiken Personnel Services, Aiken Precision Technologies, BAE Systems, Bridgestone, Graniteville Specialty Fabrics, MAU, MTU, Second Chance Job Center, and The Carlstar Group.

As partners, the companies will consider those who have earned a ManuFirst SC Certificate for open positions, participate in post-training job fairs held for completers, and will count the certificate as equivalent to one year of manufacturing work experience. However, enrolling in and completing the program does not guarantee employment.

Several community partners are also involved in helping to promote the ManuFirst Certification to area employers, to help recruit students, or provide services such as providing career assistance. Community partners include: Economic Development Partnership, Lower Savannah Council of Governments, SC Vocational Rehabilitation, Aiken County Adult Education Center, and Aiken County Public Schools.

“Having the employers’ buy-in early on to say ‘yes, we want to hire graduates from this program’ is extremely important because then the (program’s participants) know they now have a pathway directly to these employers. No guarantee of a job, but they have a pathway that will help them get interviews and be able to get one-on-one time with these employers who are looking to fill open positions,” said Simmons. “So it’s a win-win for everyone.”

The first program session will be held in February 2019. Applicants must be South Carolina residents who are at least 18 years old, have a least a high school diploma or GED (documentation required), and be committed to completing the program.

Those interested are encouraged to attend an information session to learn more about the program and to apply. Sessions will be held at 6 p.m. on Dec. 11, Jan. 9, Jan. 23, Feb. 6, and Feb. 20 in the College’s amphitheater (700 building).

For more information about the information sessions, contact Gail Counts at (803) 508-7405 or

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