Locally, The Upstate WIB currently supports an adult and dislocated worker program and three youth programs in Spartanburg, Cherokee, and Union counties. The adult/dislocated worker program operates as Upstate Career Source, while the youth programs are USC Upstate Achieve, Youth Stop, and Palmetto Youth Connections. These programs provide Workforce Investment Act services to clients including job search assistance, resume writing and job skills workshops, training to increase skill levels, interview preparation, on-the-job training and work experience opportunities, GED preparation, life skills training, and a host of other services provided through the programs or through partnerships with other organizations and agencies.
Successes in these programs are not hard to find. Nykia Henderson, for example, recently began work as an RN with Spartanburg Regional Hospital System after completing her Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing from USC Upstate. Through her education journey, Upstate Career Source Workforce Specialist, Joni Sanders, was able to follow her progress and assist Nykia while she was in school and as she began contacting employers after graduation. Nykia recently returned to Career Source with her diploma and license in hand and received many congratulations from staff. Nykia proudly stated, “It was a long and tough road, and I am grateful to have had you with me.”
Nykia’s success is not unique. Last year, Upstate Career Source assisted more than 8,000 adults and dislocated workers and provided training services, similar to those Nykia received, to nearly 900 of those participants. In addition to providing Workforce Investment Act services, Upstate Career Source is involved in other activities that assist those looking for employment as well as employers looking to connect with the best candidates for their positions. Last week, Upstate Career Source hosted its annual Upstate Job Fair, attracting well over 1,000 jobseekers. Over 30 of those job seekers left the job fair with offers of employment and another 100 plus left with interviews scheduled in the coming weeks.
The Upstate WIB’s youth programs make a difference, too. Palmetto Youth Connections participant, Barbara McDowell, began their program with a host of obstacles keeping her from attaining her GED and continuing her education. Barbara, however, was determined to move forward and not allow her obstacles to keep her from her dreams. Though not without many struggles, Barbara did attain her GED in August of 2010 after enrolling in the Palmetto Youth Connections Program and receiving help in increasing her math and reading skills as well as career guidance and education assistance. Barbara was even able to enroll in and complete the EKG Technician program at Spartanburg Community College and passed the national certification exam. As an even greater testament to Barbara’s determination, she is currently enrolled at Spartanburg Community College working towards an associate degree in medical laboratory technology. Palmetto Youth Connections and the Upstate WIB have recognized Barbara’s astounding achievements by giving her a new laptop computer for enrolling in post secondary education and working so diligently to achieve her dreams.
USC Upstate Achieve has had its share of successes as well. Kenneth Gilbert enrolled in August of 2010, completed GED training and received his GED in December of 2010. The Achieve program placed Kenneth in a work experience training program at the Business Technology Center in Spartanburg, which led to Kenneth being hired as an employee there. Kenneth plans to enroll and start college in the fall.
Likewise, Shelby Bridges enrolled in the Achieve program and attained her GED in April 2010. Shelby scored in the top 5 percent of GED test takers in the state of South Carolina. She completed a work experience training program with the Children’s Shelter of Spartanburg and received very positive recommendations from the staff there. In Aug. 2010, Shelby enrolled in Spartanburg Community College and is in her second semester.
All of these programs have made a difference not only in the lives of these participants but to the community as a whole. An educated and prepared workforce is essential to economic development and growth. The Upstate WIB works closely with economic developers and elected officials in assuring that these programs are meeting the needs of the community and creating a competitive advantage for our area.
For more information about Workforce Investment Act programs please visit our website – www.upstatewib.org.