New unemployment tax system coming soon

The S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) is upgrading and modernizing our tax system portal.

This new online system, the State Unemployment Insurance Tax System (SUITS), is designed to help you file unemployment insurance wage reports and pay unemployment insurance taxes. It is anticipated that SUITS will be implemented in the fall of 2017. The customized system will offer immediate account accessibility and streamlined business processing with the capability to:

  • Submit online registrations and changes to obtain liability determinations.
  • Utilize online tools to file wage reports and submit tax payments.
  • Access account history.
  • Change and update account information.
  • Communicate with a DEW representative.

To download the file format specification documents for filing your wage reports and taxes, click here. You can access a copy of the most current written authorization form to appoint an individual, firm or organization as your representative here.

 

Businesses find giving ex-offenders a chance creates loyal employees

One of first things Brian Stirling did as the director of the S.C. Department of Corrections is watch how people are released from prison.

He noticed that they are dropped off at the bus station that was formerly at the corner of Gervais and Harden streets in Columbia. Many of the newly released offenders were enticed by drugs and prostitution before they could leave town.

“Some people didn’t have a chance,” he said during a panel discussion at the 2017 Workforce Development Symposium hosted by the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) and the State Workforce Development Board (SWDB).

He first instituted a plan to where if an inmate has a family member pick them up, they could leave prison at the beginning of the month. Next he focused on getting them a job even before they leave prison.

“My goal is to have a job for them to have a job before they leave,” he said. Having a job reduces the recidivism rate by 10 percent, he said. The recidivism rate for ex-offenders without a job is around 24 percent but only 14 percent among ex-offenders who are working.

With approximately 900 people are released from South Carolina prisons every month, former Gov. Nikki Haley urged the Corrections and DEW to partner in helping returning citizens find employment.

The Second Chance program began as a pilot program at the Manning Correctional Facility in Columbia. Through this initiative, DEW provides a full-time employee, coaching and materials to assist returning citizens in work-skills training.

Ninety days prior to release, ex-offenders are taught employment and soft skills in class for one hour each day. During the last 30 days, participants work directly with a DEW counselor to become registered in the SC Works system, craft a resume and apply for jobs online once released.The skills they learn through the Second Chance Initiative help leverage the skills they’ve acquired through the work programs.

Participants in the Second Chance Initiative receive a folder at the time of release that includes a Federal Bonding letter, several copies of their resume, a letter of explanation that outlines their personal situation, information on the SC Works centers across the state and contact information for a case manager in their local SC Works center, and any other information or available resources relevant to that individual.

“We want to make it hard for people to fail,” Stirling said.

Cheryl Stanton, DEW’s executive director, said as the unemployment rate falls to near record lows, the agency and employers start focusing people with barriers to employment, such as ex-offenders.

To encourage businesses to take a chance, DEW can help employers access tax credits through the federally funded Work Opportunity Tax Credit program. Employers can also receive protection through the Federal Bonding program to insure them when hiring a high-risk applicant, Stanton said.

“People in prison are not lazy, they made wrong decisions,” Stirling said.

Ken Ellington, director of Engineered Wood at Shaw Industries Group Inc. which has a manufacturing plant inside the Tyger River Correctional Facility in Enoree, S.C., and several plants outside the prison system, said about 50 percent of its South Carolina workforce are ex-offenders.

“We have a ton of skilled people,” he said. “They will become life-long, loyal employees.”

For more information about the Second Chance program click here, or contact Grey Parks at bparks@dew.sc.gov.

 

Volvo to invest in locally grown workforce

Katarina Fjording, vice president of purchasing and manufacturing for Volvo Cars U.S. Operations, wants to develop the workforce for the company’s first U.S. manufacturing facility locally, she said during her keynote address at the 2017 Workforce Development Symposium on Feb. 8.

Volvo is building its plant in Berkeley County and has said it will need 2,000 employees. Fjording said 43,000 people have shown interest in working for the company. But of that number, approximately 1,500 people will qualify because of the company’s hiring procedure.

“It is our job to figure out how to make that lower number higher,” she said.

However, she does not want to bring in too many people from outside the state as other companies have done. When speaking with other original equipment manufacturers (OEM) they told her they hired between 60 to 70 percent of their workers from outside the state.

“These are the jobs that we need to fill with people right here,” she said.

Her plan is to take the money that would be used for relocation and invest it into education. Volvo is working with Trident Technical College to develop curriculum that will help people interested in working for the company to know what the qualifications are and to provide them with the education needed to compete for their jobs.

“We want as many as possible, as local as possible,” she said of her

Workers at Volvo's Torslanda, Sweden, plant assemble a Volvo XC90. (Photo courtesy of Volvo)

Workers at Volvo’s Torslanda, Sweden, plant assemble a Volvo XC90. (Photo courtesy of Volvo)

workforce.

“What we need are a log of technicians and first level maintenance engineers,” she said. “A lot of our jobs don’t need someone with a rocket science education.”

Also it is up to all involved in workforce development to educate the community that manufacturing is not the dirty, greasy job that many people imagine when they think about manufacturing, Fjording said.

“This is a very clean and safe environment, and there are loads of good jobs in the industry,” she said.

“We want good people who care to work for us. They are wanted.”

DEW employee works hand-in-hand with economic developers

tiffany

Tiffany Jaspers says she is a translator.

As the business economic development manager for the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW), Jaspers reaches out to local officials to find out what skills and talents their workforce has and translates that information for economic developers in their efforts to attract businesses to their areas.

Jaspers certainly understands the roles economic developers play. Before joining DEW a few months ago, she worked in economic development for Lexington County.

The other part of her job is letting industry associations and chambers of commerce know what information and services the agency can provide.

“I spend all my time with economic developers and industry-related associations,” she said. “When I meet with them I simply ask ‘what is going on?’ It’s more of a listening session and then I can determine ways to help.”

And when she meets with someone she takes them something of value, such as our workforce data which extremely important for economic developers, she said.

While Jaspers doesn’t work directly with individual businesses, she recognizes that each business is different and programs and services must be tailored to their specific needs. But first she must get out to the businesses through the chambers and associations what services DEW can provide.

You can reach Jaspers at tjaspers@dew.sc.gov.

 

Walgreens is a model of inclusiveness

There is no “them” at the Walgreens distribution center in Anderson.

The 1 million-square-foot distribution center has become the model for hiring people with disabilities. Currently, about 40 percent of the center’s staff is made up of people with a registered disability. Recently the State Workforce Development Board Priority Population committee toured the facility to learn about the company’s practices.

Randy Lewis, Walgreen’s senior vice president of supply chain and logistics, implemented the idea of hiring people with disabilities as a result of his personal experience of having a son with a disability.

The company provides work environments that are inclusive that include visuals on the work process, touch screens computers with large icons and flexible workstations.

The company works with S.C. Vocational Rehabilitation, which works with the client during a 12-week training period. After that time, the company may offer the individual a full-time job. The company has said people with disabilities receive the same pay and work beside with all other employees.

“People with disabilities like to work. They want to be here,” said Lasandra Aiken, with the S.C. Vocational Rehabilitation Department in Anderson. She added that she has placed 54 clients with the company and has had only two quit.