Greenville Technical College: Industry Partnership Programs Address Local Workforce Needs

Member Spotlight

With the prediction of more than 4,000 new manufacturing jobs to be created in Upstate South Carolina in the next few years, there is a call for a new way of preparing people to satisfy the needs of the manufacturing sector. In order to grow a workforce that has the skills to close the gap between what employers need and what's currently available, industry requirements must be aligned with education.

At Greenville Technical College, we are doing that through partnerships with companies like General Electric (GE), BMW, Michelin, and Bosch Rexroth. These programs allow companies to create the skill sets they need, employing motivated people who learn both on the job and on our campuses.

GE has a history of partnering with education to grow South Carolina's workforce. The company has been an excellent corporate neighbor for Greenville Tech, donating equipment and materials, allowing engineering personnel to serve on advisory boards at the college, and encouraging highly skilled personnel to pass along their knowledge as adjunct instructors.

In 2012, the company partnered with Greenville Tech to launch GE Greenville's Gas Turbine Apprentice program. More than 650 people applied for 15 positions in this program, which allows participants to learn skills in the classroom and apply them on the job. The program was featured in a Wall Street Journal article as an example of what can happen when manufacturers and educators work closely together.

BMW has partnered with Greenville Tech, Spartanburg Community College, and Tri-County Technical College to create a world-class workforce. Students attend class full-time and apply what they learn in part-time positions with BMW, where they gain hands-on experience under the guidance of manufacturing mentors. Although there is no obligation on the part of the company to hire these BMW Scholars, the inaugural class of 14 went on to full-time positions with the company.

Greenville Tech's partnership with Michelin North America has been in place for over 25 years, helping the company to fill skilled positions and providing strong opportunities for Greenville Tech graduates. Today, Michelin Tech Scholars attend classes full-time, gaining competencies in mechanical, electrical, and electronic technologies. Subjects covered in the classroom are put into practice through part-time work as reliability technicians at Michelin plants. Tech Scholars are expected to maintain good grades and to perform well in their plant positions.

An assessment takes place at the conclusion of the two-year program at Greenville Tech. Though there is no obligation for the company or the graduate to continue employment, with successful assessment and completion of work at the college and the job site, many scholars are offered full-time positions with Michelin.

Bosch Rexroth has established a slightly different type of apprenticeship program with the college, which allows it to grow the existing workforce along with new employees. Twelve students are improving their skills in the CNC area through Greenville Tech classes. An improved knowledge base will provide a strong foundation for further training and will allow the company to be more productive and proactive in dealing with changes in the marketplace.

Apprenticeships and other partnerships are part of Greenville Tech's effort to align education with the specific needs of employers. Working together, colleges and companies can create opportunities for people, businesses, and the economy to grow.

Click here to learn more about industry partnerships at Greenville Technical College.