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Nikasha N Dicks
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Aiken Technical College, Area Organizations Partnering to Build the Region’s Workforce

A partnership with area employers, staffing agencies, non-profits and the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce is helping Aiken Technical College connect with South Carolina residents and provide them with tools to gain successful employment within the region’s manufacturing industry.

The College received a $100,000 Priority Populations Grant from SCDEW to provide programming for under- and unemployed persons; individuals with disabilities; and out-of-school youth. Those who meet the programs’ criteria may elect to enroll in the College’s material handler or ATC Manufacturing Certified continuing education courses.

“The Priority Populations Grant, provided by the SC Department of Employment and Workforce, is a tremendous benefit to area citizens with barriers searching for employment in the manufacturing sector. This grant provides full funding to those students who qualify,” said Dr. Steven F. Simmons, Dean of Business, Computer Technology, and Training at ATC.

The material handler course helps students build the knowledge and skills for an entry-level position. The course covers topics such as warehouse operations and equipment and students who successfully complete the program earn certificates of completion in material handler, powered industrial truck (fork lift), and aerial lift (scissor lift).

The ATC Manufacturing Certified course is an entry-level advanced manufacturing certification program that includes training in safety, quality practices and measurement, manufacturing processes and production, and maintenance awareness. Students who successfully complete this program can earn a Manufacturing Skills Standards Council production technician certification as well as certifications in OSHA 10, yellow belt lean training, SNAP On, and forklift.

Students who successfully complete either program are invited to participate in a mini-job fair to meet with and have on-the-spot job interviews with representatives from area employers.

Since receipt of the grant, completers have found employment with companies such as ASCO Valve, FPL Food, Hubbell Power Systems, Carlstar Group, Aiken Staffing, WSI, Aiken Personnel Services, and Owens Corning. The wages typically range from $8-12 per hour.

“Manufacturing employers often struggle with finding trained candidates for entry-level positions; our goal is to provide ready-to-hire trained workers to eliminate the time it takes to find qualified employees,” said Simmons.

Organizations that have partnered with the College to connect with area residents and/or provide interviewing opportunities include: Lower Savannah Council of Governments-WIOA, SC Vocational Rehabilitation, and Aiken County Adult Education. 

“Our partnership with other local agencies is essential for successfully identifying potential students with barriers and recruiting them into the program,” said Simmons

Registration is now open for the next set of classes which will begin Jan. 22 for the material handler course and on Feb. 5 for the ATC Manufacturing Certified course.

South Carolina residents who meet certain criteria may be eligible to receive grant funding to go toward their tuition, books, and certification exam. Enrolling in and/or completion of these programs does not guarantee employment.

Those who are interested in participating are encouraged to contact Kendall Carter, solution advisor, at (803) 508-7365 or

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