Soft Skills: S.C. Job Ready U. curriculum is available

Soft skills are important attributes in today’s workforce. But most businesses don’t have the time or resources to develop the skills on their own.

The S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) has launched its online soft skills curriculum, South Carolina Job Ready U., available at no cost to you. The curriculum was created through collaboration between many South Carolina state agencies, educational and business partners and local workforce areas. The Clemson Workforce Development Center designed the curriculum and is now hosting and managing it online.

The S.C. Job Ready U. Soft Skills Curriculum provides state partners, businesses and educational entities the opportunity to enhance their clients’, students’ and employees’ abilities through 11 skills modules.

The 11 skills modules include:

  • Reading Comprehension
  • Location Information
  • Critical Thinking/Analytic Skills
  • Basic Math
  • Mathematical Applications
  • Introduction to computing
  • Computer Application and Skills-Word
  • Computer Application and Skills-PowerPoint
  • Computer Application and Skills- Excel
  • Basic Employability
  • Professional Work Ethic

This 11-module curriculum addresses key workplace skills that are appropriate for every job, such as basic math and work ethic. S.C. Job Ready U. has two soft skills modules, Basic Employability and Professional Work Ethic that highlight specific skill sets to build a better employee. Soft skills are important attributes such as communication skills, time management and problem solving skills.

Through video lectures, virtual reality, robust open textbooks (ebooks) and interactive assessments, the participants of S.C. Job Ready U. will learn the success skills outlined by the curriculum.

The online curriculum is available for use at no cost to jobseekers, existing workers and businesses as a resource to strengthen any organization’s workforce.

If you are interested in using this complimentary curriculum, it requires is an appointed administer, two instructors and a designee. There is a training that has to be completed prior to utilizing the curriculum, but once it has been completed Job Ready U. will be available for use.

This curriculum is an additional method of training, but does not replace any existing programs, such as Career Readiness 101 that prepares jobseekers for WorkKeys testing.

If you are interested in participating in this program, contact Towanna Hicks at THicks@dew.sc.gov.

Top five myths about hiring veterans DEBUNKED!

Frequently businesses are hesitant to hire veterans because of misconceptions about the individual’s character, leadership style and a perceived “baggage” that comes with an employee who is a veteran or service member. Below are five common myths and their facts.

Myth 1: Veterans that have a disability require special accommodations

Fact: Many people assume that a disability is visible like a prosthetic leg or blindness, but in reality there are so many disabilities that are unseen like hearing loss, PTSD, depression and even diabetes. A March 2003 Work Trends report found that the vast majority, 73 percent, of employers reported that their workers with disabilities did not require accommodations. Even if special accommodations were to be made, many fear that they will be expensive adjustments, but actually statistics show that 15 percent of accommodations cost nothing and 50 percent cost less than $500. Another way to think about accommodations is that employers give special accommodations to all employees. This may be a flexible work schedule, not making a person with a bad back lift a heavy box or even adjusting the display settings on a monitor to help a person with bad eyesight.

Myth 2: All veterans have PTSD and are unemployable

Fact: In all actuality, many Americans have this disability with no prior military experience. While some estimates show that 11 to 20 percent of service members potentially have PTSD after being deployed, you are looking at a sample of the entire population which estimates that about 8 percent of Americans have had PTSD at some point of their life. Many people don’t disclose having this disability because there is a negative stigma regarding psychological health care. However, the reality of PTSD is the challenge of managing an intense condition caused by traumatic events which change how the brain functions, and in turn how you react to the world. Many people assume that individuals with PTSD are unemployable. Because of this, people who suffer from it refuse to seek care, when in fact seeking care can actually strengthen and protect their career by minimizing the impact of the symptoms on their performance.

Myth 3: Training and deployments interrupt daily workflow

Fact: Often, training doesn’t require any leave of absence from the workplace. They are typically once a month during a weekend and depending on the branch there may be time during the summer. If an active service member is going to be deployed they will have ample notice to allow the workplace to find a replacement for the duration of the deployment if needed.

Myth 4: Military skills don’t translate into the civilian workforce

Fact: It is well known that veterans and service members bring a plethora of skills to the table, but many times employers believe that those skills don’t translate into a civilian job. In addition, people frequently think that if you are in the military you serve in combat, however, many military roles include finance, digital broadcasting and mechanical engineering to name a few. The 300,000 veterans that transition out of military service each year bring these workplace skills with them that could benefit a job within that industry.

Myth 5: Military leadership doesn’t create effective leadership in the civilian workforce

Fact: The assumption is that all military leadership is autocratic meaning a single individual makes all decisions with little input from group members. Contradicting this is the reality that military leadership is characteristic of any demonstrated leadership with qualities including ambition, drive and tenacity, self-confidence, psychological openness, and realism and appetite for learning, but with the addition of respecting rank and obeying orders.

Can you contest your tax rate?

Can you contest your tax rate?

Having recently received your 2017 tax rate notice, you may have questions about how they are determined or disagree with the rate given to your business. So what do you do?

Unfortunately, South Carolina laws governing the tax rate assignment do not provide for an appeals process. However, if you disagree with the historical information contained in your notice of contribution rate you can submit a written request for a review within 30 days from the date on the notice. You must submit your request, along with any documentation of errors either by email at rateinfo@dew.sc.gov, fax 803-737-2862 or by mail at:

S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce
Experience Rate Section
P.O. Box 995
Columbia, SC 29202

The tax rates, according to state law, adjust automatically each year based on a formula that considers the following:

  • Projected benefit costs for the year (“base rate”)
  • Projected amount required to return the Trust Fund to an adequate balance by 2020 (“solvency surcharge”)

Tax rates are set each year to fund these components. Each employer is also responsible for a Departmental Administrative Contingency Assessment (DACA) surcharge of 0.06 percent which is added to the base rate and interest surcharge:

Total Tax Rate = Base Rate + Solvency Surcharge + DACA

If you have additional questions, you can contact the employer tax services line at 803-737-3080. To view the 2017 Tax Rate Chart click here.

A look into textiles in South Carolina

textiles in sc

Don’t tell Matt Shannon that the textile industry in South Carolina is dead or dying.

“We are here, we are strong,” said Shannon, head of Greenwood Mills weaving department. The mill is a private, family-owned textile plant that has been a fixture in the town of Greenwood for the past 127 years.

pan greenwood mills

While the industry doesn’t employ nearly the numbers it did even as recent as 2001, where the textile mills industry employed more than 52,000 people, there are still nearly 15,000 employed in mills around the state.

The textile industry is considered a legacy industry, meaning that the projected job growth of the industry is declining, but it still has a competitive advantage because of its location. Textiles place well above the national average in the Upstate region for their location quotient, the number that is determined by how influential an industry is in a certain region. You can find the report here.

However, Shannon and Greenwood Mills Human Resources Director Lisa McMillan agree that there won’t be any significant amount of change in the industry’s job growth, but it can be assumed that there will be a slight and steady increase over the coming years due to the number of companies coming back to the states coupled with the number of people expected to retire in the coming years.

“This isn’t just at our plant, but industry everywhere,” McMillan said.

As the textile industry evolved from labor intensive machinery, to water powered equipment and now to a more technology driven plant, the kinds of employees needed have evolved too. Both Shannon and McMillan said the types of people Greenwood Mills is looking to hire are people who want a career, and who are willing to start at the bottom.

“The biggest problem we face is finding qualified labor that is willing to work. A lot of people want a job, but when it comes down to actually working, they don’t want to do it,” Shannon said. “A lot of times it’s the simple things like showing up on time and doing what you’re supposed to.”

What you can expect as a new hire at Greenwood Mills are not desk jobs, but a place where everyone works on the floor in a fast-paced environment. Training for many of the positions is done in-house and the only qualifications you need are basic math and communication skills.

Shift work is a big part of the efficiency of the plant, and while everyone works on average 40 to 50 hours a week, new hires usually work the off-shift hours and gradually work up to the day shift. There are more technical positions that are needed.textile machinery

“Every new machine is more mechanized than the last, and if technology interests you, there is a job for you in the textile industry,” Shannon said.

Save time, cut paperwork with SIDES

Did you know that using the State Information Data Exchange System (SIDES)                   E-Response can save you time and money?

SIDES E-Response is a web-based system that provides a secure, electronic and nationally standardized format to respond to Unemployment Insurance (UI) information requests at no cost to you. There you can respond to separation information requests, wages reported and possible charges, and view and respond to claims determinations and decisions. You can also use the website to complete earnings verification requests.

Other benefits of using SIDES E-Response include:

  • Reduces staff time
  • Reduces paperwork
  • Provides data checks to ensure the exchange of complete and valid information
  • Helps prevent fraud
  • Helps keep your taxes low

Because SIDES E-Response is a standardized format, you can communicate with multiple states in which you do business all with the click of a few buttons.

To sign up for SIDES E-Response in South Carolina, please register to setup your account.

Once your account has been activated, you can access SIDES E-Response here. When responding, you will need your Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN), State Employer Identification Number (SEIN) and Personal Identification Number (PIN).

Your time is valuable, register today.

Focus on manufacturing

Manufacturing is a main focus for South Carolina, and the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) partners with several manufacturing organizations, including the S.C. Manufacturing Alliance, S.C. Chamber of Commerce and the S.C. Manufacturing Extension Partnership (SCMEP), to respond to the needs of manufacturers and their employees as well as provide them with resources.

To give you an example of the impact of manufacturing in South Carolina, consider this:

  • Last year the manufacturing industry had a statewide impact of more than $1 billion.
  • Manufacturing holds 12 percent of all employment in South Carolina.
  • Data shows that each manufacturing job creates 2 1/2 other spin-off jobs.
  • As of the end of this school year, nearly 35,000 S.C. high school students are preparing for advance manufacturing jobs.

One of the many ways DEW supports this industry is through its Rapid Response program which uses a team of experts to implement a fast-paced business growth system and innovation tools to assist with employee retention that helps both the employer and employee receive assistance and retraining. Since 2011, 81 companies have benefited from Rapid Response services.

Additionally, South Carolina is one of the 10 original recipients of the Department of Defense (DOD) diversification grant in round I, meaning support and resources are available to help defense firms reduce their dependency on DOD contracts. As part of this program, businesses can apply for consulting services in four areas: strategic planning, sales and marketing, lean product development and quality certifications, lessening the impact stemming from potential federal defense cuts.

In the past year, 20 defense firms were provided diversification assistance, resulting in:

  • Retention of more than $421 million in sales.
  • Creation of more than $219 million in new sales.
  • Retention of 1,090 jobs while creating 450 new jobs.

These programs are not just for manufacturers, they can be applied to other businesses who may be at risk of layoffs or are wanting to diversify their companies. For more information about these programs, contact Michelle Paczynski

Aiken, Union counties receive work ready certification

SC-Work-Ready-Communities-300x92

Gov. Nikki Haley announced today that Aiken and Union counties have received certification through the South Carolina Work Ready Communities (SCWRC) initiative. Aiken and Union join the 42 other counties that have met the specified workforce and education goals.

South Carolina leads the nation with the most certified work ready communities, and continues to attract international business development due to its commitment to economic growth and a robust workforce pipeline.

“With Aiken and Union counties being named Certified Work Ready, we are only two counties away from reaching our goal of being the first state in the country to be fully certified. This is a testament of Team South Carolina’s hard work in making sure we have the most competitive business environment in the world for companies looking for a place to call home,” Gov. Haley said.

“We celebrate what this means for these counties and our state” said Cheryl M. Stanton, Executive Director of the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce. “With the Work Ready initiative, and a continuing commitment to skilled workforce development, it is not surprising that employment numbers have been at historic highs over the last year, and companies continue to expand and choose South Carolina as the place to do business.”

The South Carolina Work Ready Community initiative provides a framework to strengthen economic development using a community-based approach, grounded in certifying counties as work ready.

To become a South Carolina Work Ready Community, a county must reach or exceed goals in earning National Career Readiness Certificates (achieved through WorkKeys® testing), must meet or exceed the three-year graduation rate average or improvement percentage, and must engage business support.

A map of South Carolina’s 44 certified counties is available here.

For additional information, visit www.scworkready.org.

Business service teams help find qualified employees

McLeod Health, one of the Pee Dee’s largest employers, recently needed to fill several entry level positions in its Pee Dee facilities.

The health service provider, which serves more than one million residents in the Northeast region of South Carolina and Southeast region of North Carolina, teamed up with the Pee Dee Local Workforce Development Area (LWDA) to recruit, screen and refer eligible applicants to fill those positions.

The Pee Dee LWDA Business Services Team got to work identifying the skills and skill level requirements of the available positions and to ensure that the best quality referrals are made. They piloted the WorkKeys’ profiling of four entry level positions, Medical Service Technician, Environmental Services Technician, Nutrition Services Associate 3 and Certified Medical Assistant.

After several months of planning and establishing protocols, the team began referring job seekers in December 2015 and as of Feb. 1, 2016, approximately 50 referrals have been made and at least 7 individuals have been hired.

The LWDA provides candidate screening and matching services to help identify qualified candidates. It also offers assessments of potential job applicants to help ensure they possess the skills to do the job.

Assessments such as WorkKeys measure basic skills as well as a candidate’s communication, problem solving and interpersonal skills. There is also the WorkKeys job profiling assessment that helps businesses understand the skills required for specific positions.

Click here to find an LWDA near you.

Mullet Door opens opportunities with On-the-Job Training program

When Jeff Davis, manager of Mullet Door in Abbeville, heard about the On-the-Job Training program available through SCWorks, he was interested. The problem was he didn’t have an opening.

A few months later, however, Davis called Upper Savannah Business Services Representative, Willie Forrest, telling him that he had an available position and wanted to use the OJT program at the Abbeville facility. Within days, Davis received several resumes from Forrest and eventually hired a candidate who had recently been dislocated from another job.

About a month later, another hiring need arose. Once again, Davis used the OJT program and hired an out-of-school youth for the job. Throughout the course of several months, Davis hired a total of four people in through the OJT program.

OJT is a federal program funded by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act that lets a business hire and train skilled workers and then reimburses them for the cost of training workers who have the ability to do the job but lack the practical hands-on experience.

Employers benefit from more efficient recruiting, more targeted training and assistance with training expenses. Other benefits include:

  • OJT specialists help find the right talent when you need it, reducing time, effort, and money spent on recruiting.
  • OJT helps train the right workers to meet the businesses requirements.
  • Businesses receive between 50% and 75% of the costs to provide on-the-job training for individuals hired (reimbursement depends on the size of the business).

Those employees eligible for this program include youth, the unemployed or underemployed, laid-off workers and homemakers re-entering the workforce.

Davis said that the productivity of the people who have gone through this program is better than those who is now a champion for the program and is encouraging other businesses in his Abbeville area to participate in OJT as well. This has resulted in OJT placements at several other businesses.