Governor Henry McMaster announced a $17 million investment into South Carolina’s workforce through the creation of the Workforce Scholarships for the Future pilot program and called upon the General Assembly to provide $124 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to extend the program through June 30, 2024. The program, which will initially be funded through the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund, will address South Carolina’s labor shortage by providing scholarships to cover the cost of tuition and required fees at any technical college in South Carolina.
“South Carolina must be proactive in addressing the labor shortage. This funding will take on the crisis head-on by providing thousands of South Carolinians with the skills needed to thrive in a number of high-demand careers,” said Governor Henry McMaster. “With this investment of $124 million into our most important resource – our people – we can ensure that South Carolina will have the workforce needed to attract further jobs and investment from companies worldwide.”
Any adult or recent high school graduate in South Carolina will be eligible. Scholarship funds may only be used for associate degrees or industry credentials in high-demand careers like manufacturing, health care, computer science and information technology, transportation distribution and logistics, or construction.
Scholarship recipients, who will total approximately 15,000, will be required to maintain a 2.0 grade point average and complete one of the following requirements:
- Complete 100 hours of voluntary time to a nonprofit or public-service organization; or
- Are employed; or
- Take a financial literacy course offered at the technical college.
“Our 16 colleges are committed to making higher education affordable and accessible for the citizens of South Carolina,” said Dr. Tim Hardee, president of the SC Technical College System. “Workforce Scholarships for the Future opens doors for South Carolinians, helping them get the training and education they need to work in high-demand fields across our state. This scholarship is helping build a skilled and ready workforce for business and industry.”
This year, Governor McMaster has awarded $12 million in GEER funds to provide short-term training programs in critical workforce areas such as transportation, manufacturing, and healthcare. Between January and October of this year, over 3,000 South Carolinians have been retrained in high-demand careers. By the end of December, approximately 5,000 South Carolinians will be reskilled and employed.
“The success of any manufacturer starts with its workforce, and in this tight labor market having the right credentials and skills are necessary to fill high-demand occupations. South Carolina’s Technical Colleges have a strong track record of performance in providing educational and training programs that lead students to meaningful careers. This scholarship program will make a positive impact for many South Carolinians and will strengthen the pipeline of skilled individuals who are critical to our state’s future success,” said Sara Hazzard, President and CEO of the South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance.
The program will go into effect on January 1, 2022. This announcement is the final allocation of the initially allotted GEER II funds.