UNION COUNTY — In today’s world you need more than a high school diploma/GED to get a good job, you also need a set of skills that make you ready to go to work for employers looking for employees who have the skills to do the job they’re being hired to do and become even more skilled through on the job training.
That’s what the Adult Education Program at the Union Campus of Spartanburg Community College is offering the people of Union County.
In 2016, the Union County Board of School Trustee voted to authorize the Union County School District to enter into a partnership with Spartanburg Community College to move the district’s Adult Education Program from its location on Main Street in downtown Union to the Union Campus of SCC on US 176.
Under the terms of the partnership between the district and SCC, students enrolled in the Adult Education program began taking classes at SCC in the 2016-2017 school year. During that first year the school district remained responsible for the program at the fiscal level, but with the start of the 2017-2018 school year SCC took complete responsibility for all aspects of the program including its fiscal needs.
The completion of the transition of the program from the control of the school district to SCC has also meant changes in what the program provides students and its ultimate goal in providing them.
“The largest difference is we want to create a path to employment,” Campus Director Isaac McKissick said. “When students come here we want them to know they can get the skills to support their families and themselves. We want them to know they can get the skills that allow them to be gainfully employed.”
While traditionally Adult Education has been seen as the means of someone going back to school to get their GED, McKissick said a GED in itself is no longer enough to enable a person to be gainfully employed to the point where they can support themselves and their families. McKissick said that in addition to acquiring a GED a person must also acquire the job skills employers are seeking in the people they hire for the jobs they need to fill. He said the SCC Union campus provides students with the opportunity acquire those skills while also getting their GED.
McKissick said that a GED and a set of skills go hand in hand and attaining both can change a student’s life and that’s what the SCC Union Campus hopes to do for students enrolled in the Adult Education Program.
“Let’s change your life, because if you’re coming here there’s something you want,” McKissick said. “It comes down to the point you realize there’s something you need. We want to provide them the skills they need to really maximize their skills and achieve their dreams.”
McKissick pointed out that the SCC Union Campus offers Adult Education students — and others — the opportunity to gain the skills they need in industries that are experiencing tremednous growth in Union County, the rest of the Upstate and beyond. He said the campus does this through a variety of programs that not only provide students with classroom training, but often with on the job training through the partnership and apprenticeship programs SCC has established with local employers.
One of those most popular of these is the Welding Program which is held year-round. Students enrolled in the program acquire skills in safety and gas, electric arc, MIG and TIG welding; gain practical experience in cutting and welding plate, mild steel pipe, and stainless steel pipe; and course credit towards an Associate in Applied Science Degree — General Technology with a major in welding. Professional opportunities for students who successfully complete the course include welder, fitter, and fabricator in the manufacturing and the construction sectors which account for 27 percent and 18 percent, respectively, of the workforce in the Upstate.
A more recent — and timely — addition to the SCC Union Campus is Mechatronics Technology which is described as “an interdisciplinary field involving control systems, electronic systems, computer networks, and mechanical systems that integrates product design and automated manufacturing processes.” The program which is held year-round, enables students to “gain experience and skills needed to perform routine maintenance, diagnosis, repairs, and installation involving electrical, mechanical and control systems in a manufacturing environment.”
Students who graduate from the program can apply the credits they earn toward an Associate in Applied Science Degree — General Technology with a major in Mechatronics Technology. Professional opportunities for students who successfully complete the program include maintenance technician, entry-level mechatronics technician, and manufacturing associate in industries such as agriculture, food and natural resources, architecture and construction, manufacturing and transportation, and distribution and logistics.
In addition, McKissick announced that the campus will host an open house on Saturday, Sept. 16 which will include a robotics workshop for middle school students; an overview and tour of the campus; presentations on financial aid; information dual credit courses for high school students and adult education. Those events will be held at the following times during the open house:
8 a.m.-3 p.m. — West Point Middle School Robotics Workshop
8:30-9:30 a.m. — Adult Education Overview & Campus Tour
9:30-10:30 a.m. — FAFSA Overview & Campus Tour
10:30-11:30 a.m. — Dual Credit Overview & Campus Tour
11:45 a.m.-1 p.m. — Lunch for Robotics Workshop Participants
2:30-3 p.m. — Graduation for Robotics Workshop Participants
McKissick also announced that the campus will offer a Basic Computer Skills course beginning Monday, Sept. 11.
The course description states that “computers affect every facet of our lives and every sector of the global society so it is important that everyone learn basic computer skills. This class is designed to teach basic skills needed to perform tasks on computers and online. Included in the class are basic computer digital literacy standards such as Basic Computer Use, Internet, Email, and Microsoft Word.
McKissick said the course is for six weeks and will be held Monday and Wednesday from 5-7 p.m. The course costs $50.
For more information about the Adult Education, Welding, Mechatronics, and other programs and financial assistance available for them; about the Sept. 16 open house; and the Basic Computer Skills course beginning Monday, call the Union Campus of Spartanburg Community College call 864-466-1060.
The Union Campus of Spartanburg Community College is open Monday-Thursday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.