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New Oconee County Youth Apprenticeship Program Will Ensure a More Qualified Workforce in Upstate South Carolina

July 10, 2015

Earlier this week, Oconee County launched a new Youth Apprenticeship Program in partnership with the School District of Oconee County and Apprenticeship Carolina. Primarily geared towards Oconee County’s manufacturing sector, the program will work closely with local industries to form the necessary partnerships, as well as provide comprehensive classroom training and the hands-on learning environments required to build a qualified, skilled workforce in Upstate South Carolina.

“This program is going to be a difference maker in our economic development pursuits both in working with new companies coming to the area and our existing industrial base,” says Richard K. Blackwell, executive director of the Oconee Economic Alliance. “Over time, this new workforce development program will bear important fruit that will continue to make Oconee County a prime location for business.”


In an interview with GSA Business, Anthony Tosti, CFO for Seneca’s Greenfield Industries Inc., a supplier of expendable cutting tools and the first company to register with the program, said that the company is taking advantage of this resource as a way to address an aging workforce.

“I think our average age in the company is around 45 or 46 and we wanted to start getting a stream of qualified individuals, young individuals coming into the company to kind of fill in because you’ve got to have that rotation,” Tosti told GSA Business.

Oconee County’s Youth Apprenticeship Program mirrors other programs around the state supported by Apprenticeship Carolina. A division of the SC Technical College System, Apprenticeship Carolina works to ensure all employers in South Carolina have access to the information and technical assistance they need to create demand-driving apprenticeship programs.

Apprenticeship Carolina provides cost-free consultation services to employers to help guide companies through the registered apprenticeship development process.


“Our companies tell us that they want to register apprenticeships for a couple of reasons,” said Carla Whitlock, senior apprenticeship consultant with Apprenticeship Carolina, in an interview with GSA Business. “First of all they may have key people who are going to be retiring over the next few years. Think about it. If you have guys who have been there a long, long time and they are carrying a lot of knowledge … Think about how that knowledge is going to be transferred. An apprenticeship is a great way to have that knowledge transfer within either a new employee or an existing employee. Also, they tell us they just want their employees to get that credential. More and more of our companies—and they are primarily the European-based companies—they want their employees to be credentialed in their particular field and their particular occupation.”

Read the full press release announcing the launch of the Oconee County Youth Apprenticeship Program at http://investoconeesc.com/oconee-county-launches-youth-apprenticeship-program/

For more information about the workforce in Oconee County, visit https://www.upstatescalliance.com/about-upstate/regional-fact-sheets/oconee-county.