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How state leaders plan to address thousands of unfilled job openings

There are about 105,000 open jobs in South Carolina without any applicants

COLUMBIA, S.C. — As South Carolina sees increased economic investment, state lawmakers are studying how to keep up with the growing demand of workers. 

According to state lawmakers, new companies have invested more than $1.4 billion dollars in South Carolina, creating more than 3,000 jobs over the last year. 

The state's Manufacturing Alliance said there are over 5,000 manufacturers that call South Carolina home and employ more than 12% of the state's workforce. 

However, there aren't enough trained workers to fill open positions. 

"I have looked at over 100,000 jobs that we don’t have employees for," said Rep. Rita Allison. 

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On Friday, state lawmakers heard from manufacturers, construction companies, and tech companies who say they're having a tough time finding qualified candidates.

"As we try to scale up and bring in new talent it doesn't seem like it’s there for the taking," said one Charleston based manufacturer. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, South Carolina's workforce participation rate is 56% -- below the national average of 62%

Experts say some causes are the state's large retiring population and lack of education and access to child care.  

"After the pandemic we found that a lot of our families both who have worked before, someone had to stay home with children," said Allison. 

Officials with SEW Eurodrive, Middle Tyger Community Center and Spartanburg District 5 told the panel of lawmakers about a partnership they’ve developed to expand childcare options for working families in Spartanburg County. 

They said a model like this could work in other parts of the state.

“We have seen the difference it makes with quality early childhood care,” said Spartanburg District 5 Superintendent Dr. Randall Gary. 

Other recommendations lawmakers heard was expanding apprenticeship programs throughout the state. 

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"What companies have to do is be more proactive, recruit on the front end, talk people into being interested in your industry and then build a roadway for them to become qualified," said Midlands Technical College Business Solutions Director Jeremy Catoe.

Catoe said Midlands Tech is about to open a new Center for Business and Information Technologies which will prepare students to meet the growing demand for skilled jobs in the area. 

"We need those companies to stay here and be successful because Columbia’s a town where we lose a lot of our young talent," said Catoe.

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