Spartanburg Veterans to Be Featured on Fox Sports

Segment to Highlight How They Got Hired

Tune in to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race Saturday on Fox Sports, and you’ll meet three Spartanburg veterans who found jobs thanks to help from the SC Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) veterans’ team.

The Careers for Veterans 200 presented by the Cooper Standard Foundation and Brad Keselowski’s Checkered Flag Foundation will feature four veterans currently working for the Michigan-headquartered automotive manufacturing company. Three—Jeffery Nicholson, Joshua Klootwyk and Stafford Smith—are from the Spartanburg facility. And they were all referred to Cooper Standard by DEW representatives.

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(Front row from left) Veterans Joshua Klootwyk, Stafford Smith and Jeffery Nicholson were referred to their current jobs at Cooper Standard in Spartanburg by DEW representatives (back row) John Lee and Eric McAbee. The trio will be featured on Fox Sports this weekend as part of The Careers for Veterans 200, a NASCAR Truck race that will showcase the importance of hiring military veterans.

In fact, Cooper Standard and DEW have forged a strong partnership during the past seven years.

“These guys are really good about getting vets, finding guys about to be discharged and forward thinking,” Cooper Standard Human Resources Manager Warren Snead said of DEW Spartanburg veterans’ staff Eric McAbee and John Lee.

Take Jeffery Nicholson, who retired last year after 20 years in the Coast Guard. This New Hampshire native wanted to retire in South Carolina and be close to family. He connected with McAbee, who assisted with a job search and referred him to Cooper Standard.

“He was so enthusiastic about helping me find a good job, one equivalent to what I did in service,” Nicholson said of McAbee. “It was a little tough at first, but he was always throwing something my way.”

Today, Nicholson is the second shift supervisor at Cooper Standard, where he oversees more than 55 people. He started as a production associate in September 2013 and three months later moved up to a team coordinator before getting the most recent promotion.

He said Cooper Standard welcomed him with open arms and provides a great working environment for veterans. The company in February formalized its commitment to hiring veterans at the urging of the National Association of Manufacturers and actor Gary Sinise, of “Forrest Gump” fame who started a foundation to help military service members, veterans and first responders. Cooper Standard partnered with NASCAR driver Keselowski, and in May the two announced they would sponsor the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Michigan International Speedway.

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The Careers for Veterans 200 further supports Cooper Standard’s mission to recruit and hire top talent at a national level.  According to company officials, since formalizing the veterans initiative earlier this year Cooper Standard has increased its veterans workforce by 16 percent.

In the Spartanburg facility, that success is due in part to the relationship between DEW veterans’ representatives and Snead.

“Most of the time we can get an interview right out of their office,” Snead said of McAbee and Lee. “I have even popped into their office… Eric and John and the folks in the DEW office in Spartanburg have done a remarkable job helping us field our expansion.”

He added with a laugh, “I should give them Cooper Standard business cards.”

So when it was time for Fox Sports to visit Spartanburg’s Cooper Standard plant and film veterans on the job so they could be spotlighted during the race broadcast, Snead invited McAbee and Lee to join in.

“It was just awesome,’’ McAbee said of the experience getting to watch on set.

As for Nicholson, who explained he spent his military career keeping things close to the vest, he enjoyed getting a chance to be a spokesman. He and his wife are looking forward to seeing what he looks like on television.

Check out the race and learn more about Cooper Standard’s commitment to hiring veterans beginning at 12:30 p.m. Saturday on Fox Sports.

Learn more about DEW’s employment services for veterans and find a veterans representative near you here.

Read more about Cooper Standard’s Careers for Veterans here.

South Carolina awarded $1M Workforce Development Grant

131029_resources_header_research_WorkforceDevelopmentJobseekers in six rural S.C. counties will have the opportunity to boost their credentials thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Department of Education.
South Carolina recently received $1,079,016 through the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) incentive grant program.

The South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) will administer the grant and use the funds to improve the state’s workforce and promote collaboration among workforce and education partners, primarily the SC Department of Education and the SC Technical College System.

“This opportunity would not be possible if it wasn’t for South Carolina’s dedication to workforce and economic development,” said DEW Executive Director Cheryl M. Stanton. “These funds will allow individuals to earn credentials they might not otherwise obtain, such as a GED or a National Career Readiness Certificate, improving the workforce in areas that need it most.”

Under the program name Learn 2 Earn, DEW and its partners will focus on Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Clarendon, Hampton and Orangeburg counties. It will meet the basic skills needs of adults and create a pipeline of skilled workers for the healthcare, advanced manufacturing, transportation, and distribution and logistics industries. Service areas were selected based on statistical data (unemployment, poverty, education levels, etc.), anticipated job opportunities and potential impact.

The Palmetto State was one of eight states eligible to receive the funds based on the state exceeding WIA and Adult Education performance measures in program year 2012.

“We’re pleased that South Carolina received this important workforce development grant,” said State Superintendent of Education Mick Zais. “We greatly appreciate the partnership we share with DEW and the SC Technical College System. Our state is ripe with opportunity, and by investing in career training now, we can ensure a bright economic future for South Carolina families.”

Funds will also be used to improve soft skills needed for the workplace. Learn 2 Earn will develop and implement a uniformed, statewide and classroom/online-based soft skills curriculum for high school students and adults statewide.

Grant funding will run through June 2016.

Jobs for America’s Graduates-SC National Awards for 2013-2014

Jobs for America’s Graduates-SC (JAG-SC) took home multiple national awards from the organization’s annual training conference held in July in Orlando, Fla.

The state program was awarded the prestigious “Five of Five” Award, meaning it met or exceeded all national standards. Nine individual high schools also received the award. The schools and their accompanying career specialists are:

  • Chester High, Brittany Heath
  • Clinton High, Catherine Smith
  • Lake Marion High in Santee, Sonya Allen
  • McCormick High, Torsha Franklin
  • Rock Hill High, Gail Blake
  • South Florence High, Nikki Jett
  • Swansea High, Tammy Jones
  • West Florence High, Linda Williams
  • Woodmont High in Piedmont, Roderick Taylor

Outstanding Specialist Nominees from South Carolina:

  • Gail Blake of Rock Hill High
  • Tammy Jones of Swansea High

High Performer Awards:

  • Clay Cohen of Chesnee High for a non-grad recovery rate of 75 percent
  • Linda Williams of West Florence High for a partnership with Bank of America
  • Sonya Allen of Lake Marion High for a further education rate of 85 percent

JAG Special Recognition Awards:

  • Linda Williams of West Florence High for an outstanding article on the JAG website
  • JAG-SC; first place for  the lowest unable to contact rate, second place for the multi-year education rate, fourth place for scholarship success, and fifth place for full-time jobs
  • State JAG-SC Coordinator Elaine Midkiff, Pay it Forward Award for serving as a liaison and providing technical assistance to other JAG affiliates and a 21-year service award.

May 2014 Unemployment Rate Unchanged at 5.3 Percent

In May, the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained at 5.3 percent, reflecting no change from April’s estimate. An increase of 736 people moved the estimated unemployment level to 115,172 in May.

The number of South Carolinians working continues to trend upward, rising for 10 consecutive months and reaching a historic high in May of 2,051,011, increasing by 500 since April. The labor force noted a modest increase of 1,236 people from April to May, reaching a level of 2,166,183.

Since May 2013, an estimated 35,821 people have found work, but overall, the labor force decreased by nearly 20,961 people. The state’s unemployment rate has declined from the previous year by 2.6 percentage points, marking one of the largest declines in the nation.

Nationally, the unemployment rate remained at 6.3 percent for May.

Nonagricultural Employment by Industry (Seasonally Adjusted)

May’s seasonally adjusted, non-farm payroll employment increased by 3,000 over the month to 1,929,200. This was the third over-the-month increase in 2014.
 Gains were reported in Trade, Transportation and Utilities (+3,600) and Manufacturing (+1,400), with minimal increases in Professional and Business Services and Information, each with (+200).
 Construction (-1,100); Other Services (-600); Education and Health Services (-400); Government (-200); and Leisure and Hospitality (-100) saw decreases.

Since May 2013, seasonally adjusted non-farm jobs were up 38,100.
 Industries with noticeable gains were Professional and Business Services (+8,800); Trade, Transportation, and Utilities (+8,500); Manufacturing (+8,200); Leisure and Hospitality (+7,800); Education and Health Services (+5,000); and Construction (+2,300), and a small increase in Information (+200).
 Industries experiencing a decline over the year were Other Services (-1,100); Financial Activities (-1,000); and Government (-500).

Nonagricultural Employment by Industry (Not Seasonally Adjusted)

In May, non-farm payroll employment (not seasonally adjusted) improved by 12,100 over the month to 1,946,500. Growth was seen in Trade, Transportation and Utilities (+4,900); Leisure and Hospitality (+3,700); Professional and Business Services (+3,200); Manufacturing (+900); Financial Activities (+700); and Information (+300). Employment drops were reported in Education and Health Services (-1,000) as private educational institutions and related services began their usual summer downturn;
Construction (-500); and Other Services (-100).

Since May 2013, not-seasonally adjusted non-farm jobs were up 34,700 overall in South Carolina. These annual gains came from Professional and Business Services (+9,000); Trade, Transportation and Utilities (+8,100); Manufacturing (+6,800); Leisure and Hospitality (+6,100); Education and Health Services (+4,600); Construction (+2,200); and a slight upward movement in Information (+200). There were losses over the year in Financial Activities (-1,100); Other Services (-1,000); Government (-100); and Natural Resources and Mining (-100).

DEW Makes Early Unemployment Trust Fund Loan Repayment: Agency on track to repay entire loan in 2015

COLUMBIA—The SC Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) today announced it made a voluntary payment of $60 million to the federal government for the agency’s unemployment trust fund loan.

“Making this $60 million early repayment and saving the taxpayers and businesses of South Carolina $1.4 million in interest is great news and exactly what is possible when a state sees the kind of economic growth and success that we have,” said Governor Nikki Haley. “With our unemployment rate at a six year low and more people working than ever before, it’s clear we are moving in the right direction and today’s announcement is further proof that it’s paying off for the people of our state.”

“For the past three years, South Carolina has made early, voluntary repayments to the trust fund loan, further saving the state, and ultimately its businesses’ interest costs,” said DEW Executive Director Cheryl M. Stanton. “Making this $60 million early loan payment could not be possible without the work of the state’s business community in improving South Carolina’s economy faster than expected. In fact, South Carolina has more than 77,000 additional people working today than when the 2014 tax rates were set.”

DEW set the 2014 tax rates in September 2013 when the federal government estimated that 1,968,209 South Carolinians were working (August 2013). In March 2014, the estimates are that 2,046,000 people are working in South Carolina, leading to additional, unanticipated tax collections by DEW.

Additionally, South Carolina has paid nearly $23 million less in unemployment insurance benefits from October 1, 2013 through April 2014 in relation to the corresponding time period from the prior year.

With today’s early $60 million loan repayment, the state’s outstanding loan balance falls below $400 million to $396 million. To date, South Carolina has repaid more than $580 million of the $977 million borrowed from the federal government. The state is scheduled to repay the entire loan amount by the end of 2015.

Since becoming a borrowing state, the Palmetto State has been the only state to receive a waiver to avoid higher federal unemployment taxes for businesses. In fact, South Carolina has been granted this waiver for three consecutive years.

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.”

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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.