This post is part of a weekly series focused on Careers in Construction Month.
Students seeking careers in transportation, construction and utility industries now have a new way to explore their interests. South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster and other state leaders recently unveiled the "Be Pro, Be Proud SC" mobile workshop to introduce students to a career in the skilled trades and job opportunities in the state.
The workshop is housed in a 53-foot, double expandable 18-wheeler with eight skilled trade simulators. The hands-on technology provides one-of-a-kind virtual experiences in truck driving, forklifts, carpentry and welding machines.
"There are a lot of jobs, a lot of careers out there that most people just don't know about, and they don't get excited about it when they hear about them," said Gov. McMaster. "If they have the opportunity to go into this vehicle, or others like it, to learn what is available, and the amount of money you can make, it is mighty attractive. It makes for a good strong living."
Home Builders Association of South Carolina President Wayne Moore said two-thirds of parents feel jobs in the trades are not for their children. Moore hopes "Be Pro, Be Proud SC" will help change parents' mindset.
"We need that electrician. We need that air condition tech when it goes out on Friday night, and Saturday is going to be hot," said Moore. "We need these people. These are careers, and they're good."
The South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) will oversee the "Be Pro, Be Proud SC" project. DEW director Dan Ellzey said South Carolina currently has an 8.4% unemployment rate, which is three times higher than it was this time last year.
Ellzey noted the pandemic has actually increased demand for fields such as transportation, construction and utilities.
"Now more than ever, finding meaningful work that can withstand economic downfall, including a pandemic, is critical for many South Carolina families," said Ellzey. "The jobs built into this interactive experience are important to the state's economy and provide exposure to skilled-based careers that students may not have considered."
The Department of Labor estimates jobs in the skilled trade fields will increase by as much as 25% in South Carolina over the next decade. Two million jobs could be left unfilled in less than five years because of an aging workforce.
This project was made possible through public and private collaboration of state leaders, including the Associated Industries of South Carolina Foundation. "Be Pro, Be Proud SC" has 33 scheduled tour stops across the state through the end of next year.
Right now, around 20 people can be on board at one time, wearing masks and practicing social distancing. And, yes, there is plenty of hand sanitizer.
For more information, visit Be Pro, Be Proud SC.