JAG-SC Event Showcases Students’ Skills

S.C. high school students during a recent competition demonstrated they have what it takes to succeed in the workplace.

Eduardo Mota (left) of Swansea High received the Governor's Award at the annual Jobs for America's Graduates Career Development Conference.

Eduardo Mota (left) of Swansea High received the Governor’s Award at the annual Jobs for America’s Graduates Career Development Conference.

The Jobs for America’s Graduates-SC (JAG-SC) eighth annual Career Development Conference held March 28 at the Doubletree by Hilton in Columbia featured competitors from 23 high schools.

Swansea High was crowned the state champion after collecting the most points from all of the events, which covered topics such as interviewing skills, public speaking, decision making and essay writing. Wade Hampton High in Varnville took second, and Lake Marion High in Santee placed third.

Coordinated by the SC Department of Employment and Workforce, JAG is a high school dropout prevention program focused on academic success and career readiness skills. Currently in its ninth year, it has served more than 7,000 students.

With the help of a dedicated career specialist at each participating school, JAG students work on skills identified by businesses as essential to successful employment. The S.C. program has been consistently recognized at the national level for its success in equipping young people for life beyond high school.

Swansea High won first place in the JAG-SC state championship scoring the most points in the competition's events.

Swansea High won first place in the JAG-SC state championship scoring the most points in the competition’s events.

DEW Executive Director Cheryl M. Stanton and Steve Becton, associate director of urban education for the Facing History and Ourselves Organization, delivered motivational speeches to the more than 550 students in attendance. JAG alumnus Keymo Walker, now a freshman at Winthrop University, also addressed the audience. First place public speaking winner Georquel Goodwin of Lake Marion High delivered his speech to all attendees during an afternoon session.

Eduardo Mota of Swansea High won the Governor’s Award, given annually to recognize the JAG student who has demonstrated outstanding achievement and commitment to his or her goals.

Other winners were:

  • Golden Key Award for community support of the program –Jennifer Smith of J&J Home Repairs, nominated by Swansea High
  • Career Association Chapter Display—South Florence High
  • Career Association Chapter Manual—Wade Hampton High
  • Theme Essay— Xitali Torres, Swansea High
  • Theme Poetry—Shantia Dobson, Wade Hampton High
  • Theme Poster— Collin North, Colleton County High School
  • Employability Skills— a tie for first place between Zakira Felder of Creek Bridge High and Jalon Wilson of Swansea High
  • Telephone Techniques—Jalena James, Lake Marion High
  • Words in the Workplace—Willie Johnson, Wade Hampton High
  • Decision Making—Marquise McAbee Cruz, Chesnee High
  • Executive Director’s Awards given to students demonstrating personal commitment to positive change—Taylor Hicks of C.A. Johnson High, Christian Bennett of Calhoun County High, Harley Morris of Chesnee High, Ky’Eisha Carter of Chester High, Timothy Williams of Clinton High, Terele Parker of Colleton County High, Lewis Timmons of Creek Bridge High, Keyaria Williams of Darlington High, Austin Lawton of Lake Marion High, O’Dontay McCullough of Lancaster High, Erin Williams of Manning High, Derianna Anderson of McCormick High, Aleshia Erickson of Rock Hill High, Raekwon Rouse of South Florence High, Eduardo Mota of Swansea High, Savannah McDowell of Timmonsville High, T’Ana Lightfoot of Wade Hampton High, and Shaquan Ingram of West Florence High.
Georquel Goodwin of Lake Marion High won JAG-SC's public speaking contest.

Georquel Goodwin of Lake Marion High won JAG-SC’s public speaking contest.

SC ranks sixth in U.S. for veterans employment in 2013 as rate drops 2.8 percent

South Carolina’s unemployment rate for veterans 18 and older dropped to 4.1 percent in March 2013, down from 6.9 percent the same time in 2012, the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics reported today. The Palmetto State posted the nation’s sixth best rate. 

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“This is an extremely positive step,” said Cheryl M. Stanton, executive director of the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW), an agency that plays a huge role in helping veterans transition into the workforce. “It’s the result of hard work and dedication by a lot of people, state agencies and other public and private organizations coming together to make South Carolina the most military-friendly state in the nation.”

Today’s announcement comes on the heels of the launch of Operation Palmetto Employment, a statewide initiative led by Gov. Nikki Haley, in partnership with the SC National Guard, pledging a commitment to help service members, family members and veterans find meaningful civilian careers. It also follows the recent announcement that 2013 was a banner year for employment in our state as more South Carolinians were employed by the end of the year than ever before in the state’s history.

DEW has a range of resources for veterans in SC Works centers statewide. Some of the offerings include job search workshops, assistance with resumes, career counseling, and intensive services such as one-on-one case management and follow-up along with career counseling and job referrals.

All veterans receive priority service in SC Works centers. Priority means that veterans and eligible spouses receive access to a service earlier than others. Also, if a particular resource (such as a training program) is limited, the veteran or eligible spouse receives access to the service before others.

Members of the military are encouraged to visit their local SC Works center and let staff know they are a veteran. It is a good idea for them to bring a copy of their DD-Form 214 to expedite any necessary paperwork.

Visit dew.sc.gov or operationpalmettoemployment.sc.gov for more information.

To find an SC Works center, visit dew.sc.gov/directory.

New Agency Phone Line Focuses on Better Customer Service

The SC Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) recently unveiled a new and improved phone line auto attendant.

phoneThe new line, which is accessed by dialing 803.737.2400, is more customer-friendly than ever with options dedicated to the agency’s four largest audiences: unemployment claimants, jobseekers, businesses/employers and those seeking other basic information about DEW.

This approach mirrors the agency’s website so that each audience only hears options pertaining to its individual needs allowing for faster, more specific responses..

Check out the new organization and options below.

Agency Main Line 803.737.2400
TelClaim | Claimant self-service lineUnemployment benefit inquiries
Weekly claim filing
Account information
1.866.831.1724 (toll free)
Press option 4, then option 1 to speak with a live representative weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.¿Habla español? 1.866.572.3148.
Claimant LineOverpayments
Appeals 

Fraud reporting
 803.737.2400, option 1
Job seeker LineJob search and training resources
SCWOS password reset
Veterans assistance
Farmworker services
 803.737.2400, option 2
Employer LineRecruit qualified candidates
Layoff assistance
Unemployment tax 
Wage Audit Notices 
Bureau of Labor Statistics survey completion
Appeals 
Fraud reporting
  

803.737.2400, option 3

Other Agency Info

Labor Market Information, data and statistics

Public and media relations

803.737.2400, option 4

 

Johnson Receives National Award from Jobs for America’s Graduates

SC Workforce Investment Board Chairman Mikee Johnson received national recognition for his commitment to helping South Carolina’s young people prepare for success in the workplace.

Johnson, who is chief executive officer of Cox Industries, Inc. in Orangeburg, was selected as a winner of the Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG)—National Workforce Development Leadership Award.

Event Photography for Jag at the Russell Senate building

SC Workforce Investment Board Chairman Mikee Johnson of Orangeburg (second from right) receives a national award from Jobs for America’s Graduates officials in Washington, D.C.

He accepted the award on behalf of the entire State Workforce Investment Board during a ceremony on Wednesday at the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C.

“Our state’s JAG students and career specialists have reaped untold benefits because of Mr. Johnson’s leadership and overall commitment to building a world class, competitive workforce,” said SC Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) Executive Director Cheryl M. Stanton, who also attended the ceremony. “As chairman of the board, Mr. Johnson has forged strategic alliances with educators, employers and government agencies to influence state workforce policy and to advance JAG in South Carolina.”

Coordinated by DEW, JAG is a high school dropout prevention program focused on academic success and career readiness skills. Currently in its ninth year, it has served more than 7,000 students.

With the help of a dedicated career specialist at each participating school, JAG students work on skills identified by businesses as essential to successful employment. The S.C. program has been consistently recognized at the national level for its success in equipping young people for life beyond high school.

JAG students from Colleton County High School also were featured at the national award events, where they performed an original song “Keep Looking.”

Swansea JAG students Honored for Outstanding Service

Student-run Food Pantry Alleviates Hunger in School and Community

Swansea High teacher Tammy Jones knew that often the only square meal students ate in a day was the one they received at school.

“We had high school kids going home hungry,” she said.

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That’s why more than a year ago she and her Jobs for America’s Graduates-SC (JAG) students started a food pantry at the school to serve both students and community residents. A pilot project with Harvest Hope Food Bank, the school’s pantry now serves 60 to 65 families a week. JAG students stock shelves with items delivered by Harvest Hope and pack bags to distribute to the community.

Before the satellite food bank opened at Swansea High, members of the community had to find transportation to the Columbia Harvest Hope, which presented challenges and left far too many people hungry.

Because of their dedication to improving the community through the food pantry and various other service projects, Swansea High’s 52 JAG students were selected as a 2014 Best of Philanthropy Award Winner. They were honored Nov. 14 as the Student Group Champion at the annual celebration organized by the Central Carolina Community Foundation.

Jones, who has served as the JAG specialist at Swansea High since 2008, said the initiative has not only helped the community but also taught her students important life skills.

“It’s been a tremendous experience for them,” she said. “It’s just really built their self-esteem. It’s incredible to see their synergy when they hit the food pantry. They have the opportunity to get outside of themselves and see a bigger picture.”

JAGfoodpantry2

The pilot project and grant through Harvest Hope runs out in May so Jones and her classes are looking for sponsorships to keep the food pantry going beyond the school year.

Coordinated by the SC Department of Employment and Workforce , JAG  is a high school dropout prevention program focused on academic success and career readiness skills. Currently in its ninth year, it has served more than 5,500 students.

With the help of a dedicated career specialist at each participating school, JAG students work on skills identified by businesses as essential to successful employment. The S.C. program has been consistently recognized at the national level for its success in equipping young people for life beyond high school.

Jones’ JAG students are highly focused on community service and have taken on various projects including Red Ribbon Week drug prevention activities, a breast cancer awareness walk, a sock drive and volunteer work at the Families Helping Families warehouse each holiday season.

The JAG program coupled with service initiatives helps mold the students into responsible workers and citizens.

“JAG for the students here really helps them build the soft skills required by employers,” Jones said.

To learn more about the Best of Philanthropy Award, check out this article in November’s Columbia Metropolitan Magazine.

For more information about JAG, visit this page.

Two Orangeburg County Residents Plead Guilty to Unemployment Insurance Fraud

Fraud                                                                                                                                            The SC Department of Employment and Workforce’s (DEW) Office of General Counsel
announced that two Orangeburg County residents this week entered guilty pleas to
unemployment insurance fraud. Richard Boyd, 32, and Quintilla Haigler, 48, both of Orangeburg County, pleaded guilty to making a false statement or misrepresentation with the intent to defraud DEW.

Boyd and Haigler received unemployment benefits they were not entitled to by certifying to
DEW that they were unemployed and not earning any wages. However, an investigation found they had been gainfully employed during that time period and knowingly failed to notify DEW of their wages.

Both Boyd and Haigler were sentenced to five years in prison, suspended upon serving five years’ probation. Boyd was ordered to pay $20,043 in restitution to DEW. Haigler was ordered to repay $17,619. In addition to their probation sentences, Boyd and Haigler were each ordered to pay a $1,500 civil penalty to the state.

The case was investigated by DEW and prosecuted by the S.C. Attorney General’s Office.

To report suspected unemployment insurance fraud, call 1.800.868.1488. Callers can remain anonymous. To learn tips on how to help prevent unemployment fraud, visit dew.sc.gov/fraud.

State’s Businesses Can Save on Federal Unemployment Taxes for Third Year

For the third consecutive year South Carolina businesses will only pay the minimum 0.6 percent per employee for federal unemployment taxes (FUTA) because the Palmetto State once again successfully obtained the maximum 5.4 percent credit for 2013 FUTA.

“Thanks to the great work from our state’s governor, business community and legislators, South Carolina employers will reap the maximum benefits of FUTA cost savings for the third year in a row,” said Cheryl M. Stanton, executive director of the SC Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW). “The FUTA credit also reflects the positive overall trend for the state as our unemployment trust fund continues to reach solvency.”

Federal law requires a reduction in the FUTA tax credit (i.e. that the FUTA rate for a state’s employers will increase) when a state has outstanding federal unemployment loans for two consecutive Januarys and has not made sufficient voluntary payments towards the loan and other solvency improvement measures.

Additionally, the reduction in the FUTA tax credit is higher when a state has outstanding federal unemployment loans for five consecutive Januarys—which is the case in South Carolina. However, borrowing states like South Carolina can formally ask the U.S. Department of Labor for the credit reduction to be avoided if they meet certain criteria.

One of the requirements was that South Carolina make a voluntary payment toward the outstanding loan balance before Nov. 10. The state made a $144 million payment in May and a $75 million payment in September.

To date, South Carolina has repaid more than $520 million of the $977 million borrowed from the federal government. The outstanding balance is approximately $455 million, and the state is scheduled to repay the entire loan amount by the end of 2015.

The 2014 state unemployment tax rate table can be accessed on the DEW website here .

 

Working Wednesday Focuses on Hot Jobs in South Carolina

Get your questions ready for another Working Wednesday segment with the SC Department of Employment and Workforce and WIS-TV.

On Oct. 23, DEW experts will be in the Columbia television station’s studio to take your questions via twitter and phone. This month’s topic focuses on in-demand jobs in South Carolina.

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Find out what types of jobs are growing in your area and what companies are hiring. Learn what jobs will be hot for the future and how you can use labor market information to successfully land employment.

Tune in at 5, 6 and 7. Send questions ahead of time and during the newscasts using the #jobschat.

DEW Makes Second Unemployment Trust Fund Loan Repayment Well in Advance of Due Date

The SC Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) today announced it made a voluntary payment of $75 million to the federal government for the agency’s unemployment trust fund loan.

This marks the second voluntary payment the state has made in 2013 bringing the total to $219 million this year.

“Today we are proud to announce we are paying an additional $75 million towards the nearly $1 billion federal unemployment loan,” said Gov. Nikki Haley. “This will save the taxpayers and businesses of this state $1 million in interest over the next two years, putting us on a path of being paid off by 2015 – a real reason to celebrate!”

“For the past three years, South Carolina has made early, voluntary payments on the trust fund loan,” said DEW Executive Director Cheryl M. Stanton. “In fact, we are paying $25 million more than we had originally projected, reducing our final payment in 2015 and further saving the state interests cost. Because of our good track record in repaying the loan, in 2012 South Carolina was the only state that received a waiver to avoid the higher federal unemployment tax rates. We appreciate the work of the state’s business community in improving South Carolina’s economy to make this early loan payment possible.”

One of the criteria for states that owe money to the federal government (including South Carolina) to avoid increased federal unemployment taxes for businesses in 2013 is to make a loan payment by November 10, 2013. DEW made a $144 million payment in May. The agency anticipates receiving official approval to avoid the increased taxes from the US Department of Labor  in early November. South Carolina avoided higher federal taxes in 2011 and 2012.

To date, South Carolina has repaid more than $520 million of the $977 million borrowed from the federal government. After this month’s loan repayment of $75 million, the outstanding balance will be approximately $455 million. The state is scheduled to repay the entire loan amount by the end of 2015.

DEW’s Veterans Services Formula Proves Successful

jobschatlogoDon’t forget to join our Twitter chat this Wednesday, September 18 from 5-7:30 p.m. as employment experts answer your questions regarding free veteran job-search resources.

Though the veterans’ unemployment rate in South Carolina is decreasing, at 6.9 percent, there is still work to be done.

The Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) has free resources to help veterans get back to work, and can even help individuals secure stable housing while doing so.

DEW’s priority service to veterans is a formula with proven success. Take Leah Fennell, for instance.

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                                        Leah Fennell

In December 2012, 15 women and 19 children were found living under an overpass at the intersection of King and Meeting streets in Charleston. The women were all veterans whose ages ranged from 23 to 46.

Leah Fennell was one of those women, later deemed the “Charleston 15.”

With the help of individuals from the DEW, SC Works and the Charleston community the families were placed into transitional housing and worked with DEW to get jobs.—Most, if not all, have now found full-time employment.

Leah is no longer homeless and began working full-time in May 2013 at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center as a medical support assistant.

To read more about the upcoming Twitter chat and learn how you can get reemployment assistance, click here.