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Skill School as a Workforce Solution

September 5, 2019

MAU forklift training bridges employers, job-seekers


Spartanburg County recently was ranked No. 6 for U.S. industrial demand in a national report by Costar Group, placing the Upstate among larger areas like Houston, Atlanta and Dallas-Fort Worth.

“That’s incredible for our economy, for the people who live here,” says John Davey, Director of Quality and Continuous Improvement with MAU Workforce Solutions. “For people who want jobs, opportunities are available.”

Such a surge in manufacturing, logistics and warehousing is good for business and opportunity in our region, though it can also come with a challenge: finding the right talent to meet a company’s needs.

One company meeting the challenge head-on is John Davey’s employer, MAU Workforce Solutions. Headquartered in Augusta, Georgia, the family-owned company provides Upstate industries with recruiting, staffing and outsourcing services.

As we explore how #TeamUpstate collaborates to meet industry needs, the MAU Skill School sets a strong example – and it’s being explored as a model for other communities.

At its 22,500 square-foot facility in Greer, the MAU Skill School helps bridge company needs and employment skills by providing a realistic training atmosphere for job candidates, new hires and incumbent employees.

John Davey with MAU Skill School“In 2018 alone, we brought over 2,000 trainees through the skill school,” Davey says.

The idea for the school was born out of pre-employment skill qualification, which the employment services firm offered both to ensure its industrial clients were receiving adequately skilled labor and to identify whether job candidates may need further training before being placed in a job.

“After the introduction of the forklift qualification course, and working with our clients, we realized there was even more opportunity for training,” Davey says.

Skill School Bridges the Gap

Training covers vehicle operation and maintenance, as well as standards and workplace safety expectation. Trainees perform in a variety of scenarios and learn on both sit-down and standing forklifts.

Visit the Skill School facility, located in an industrial corridor near BMW Plant Spartanburg, and you’ll see trainees in steel-toed boots and safety glasses while on the warehouse floor and hear beeping of industrial machinery.

MAU forklift traineesOn the floor, trainees maneuver around each other, racking and carting containers from one area of the warehouse floor to another. They drive a variety of forklifts, from sit-down to stand-up to tugs.

“It’s amazing the difference in experience from your traditional sit-down forklift, with the driver seating, facing forward and using a steering wheel,” Davey observes. “The stand-up ones now move side-to-side, allowing for agile movement in many directions – and they’re controlled by a joystick. We’ll get many younger trainees in here who grew up playing video games, and it’s second-nature for them.”

In addition to flexible racking and bollards that can be reconfigured to mimic different environments, the facility includes a loading dock and dedicated semi-truck.

Course offerings now include:

  • Forklift Qualification: Assess a candidate’s ability to operate a forklift based on client’s job description and qualification.
  • Fundamentals: Provide knowledge and instruction using practical exercises to develop the fundamental skills to competently operate a forklift; trainees learn to use sit-down and stand-up forklifts as well as a tugger.
  • Enhancement: Improve competency and job readiness for new hire material handlers, in a controlled environment, using both scenario and equipment training; trainees learn to use sit-down and stand-up forklifts as well as a tugger.

With the Skill School’s forklift success in the Upstate, MAU is now exploring ways to replicate the model in other markets.

“The idea is that we can bring in different topics and different skillsets,” Davey says. “Skill School was, and is, just one way that MAU can be part of the solution to the challenges of workforce development.”

Are you an Upstate resident seeking forklift operator opportunities? Learn more about MAU’s Skill School here.


Video produced by MAU Workforce Solutions, in partnership with Upstate SC Alliance.

TOPICS: #TeamUpstate, Manufacturing, Logistics, Skilled Workforce, Upstate Thoughts, Workforce Development