Innovative job training program expands in West Greenville

Dist. 2 City Council Rep. Lillian Brock Flemming

An innovative job training and placement program is expanding to help more workers in Greenville County prepare for better jobs in 2013.

The Greenville Region Workforce Collaborative announced Wednesday that two new private foundation grants will fund the expansion of its CareerSkillsNow program, enabling approximately 100 unemployed and underemployed workers to receive training this year in the growing field of advanced manufacturing.

The North Carolina-based Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation awarded a $100,000 grant to CareerSkillsNow, while the Bank of America Charitable Foundation provided a $10,000 grant to expand the program’s presence in the West Greenville community.

Greenville City Council Dist. 2 Representative Lillian Brock Flemming said bringing the program to West Greenville, where the unemployment rate is as high as 48 percent, is a win for the community.

“This is an exciting partnership that will have a significant impact on the future of our community and its residents,” said Flemming.

The CareerSkillsNow program, which was developed by a regional collaborative of public, private and nonprofit partners, provides career coaching services to low to moderate income candidates who seek to become employed in the region’s thriving advanced manufacturing industry. While many positions within the transportation manufacturing field are currently available, according to employers the skill sets of the region’s unemployed and underemployed workforce do not match the skills needed by the companies that are hiring.

In a little more than a year since the program’s inception, CareerSkillsNow has trained more than 120 people, with over 70 percent of the participants finding employment or continuing their education after completing the course.

Standard Motor Products in Greenville linked up with the program in 2012 and has seen five Career Skills Now students join its manufacturing operation.

"The students entering the workforce from this program have a preview of the requirements of the manufacturing environment, and thus, can be more competitive in the workforce," said Tom Ferguson with Standard Motor Products. "SMP sees this program as a positive in the community and a way to build a stronger workforce in the Greenville area."

John Baker, executive director of the Greenville Region Workforce Collaborative, said that 14 advanced manufacturing companies have joined the program, recognizing CareerSkillsNow is a “game changer” in linking employers with the skilled workers they need.

“We have been having conversations with community leaders, nonprofits, clients and our teammates about what the needs are in the community,” said Brian Jones, market president for Bank of America. “As we took the feedback and began to analyze the information there was a resounding theme about an underlying issue: jobs. This is something that has widespread impact for families, businesses small and large on many levels, and the country as a whole.”

The grant funding will provide career coaching to accompany training in advanced manufacturing skills so that students in the program have the support and guidance necessary to complete training, become employed, and retain employment.

The Babcock Foundation and Bank of America join a growing list of funders and program partners that includes Hollingsworth Funds, Community Foundation of Greenville, Greenville Chamber of Commerce, AdvanceSC, ReadySC, Greenville Workforce Development, and the National Fund for Workforce Solutions.

In addition to United Way of Greenville County, the nonprofit partners include Goodwill Industries; Greenville County Schools Lifelong Learning, Greenville Technical College, SC Works, SHARE, United Ministries and Urban League of the Upstate.

“Collaboration at all levels is the key driver of the program,” said Ted Hendry, president of United Way of Greenville County. “We are grateful to our newest funding partners for showing their commitment to our community. Because of their support, we will help more families become financially stable and strengthen Greenville County as a whole.”

CareerSkillsNow information sessions are scheduled for:

  • January 24 at noon at the West Greenville Community Center

  • January 29 at noon at the West Greenville Community Center

  • January 31 at 12:30 p.m. at Sterling Hope Community Center

  • February 7 at 6 p.m. at Hughes Library

  • February 13 at 10 a.m. at the West Greenville Community Center

  • February 21 at 10 a.m. at the West Greenville Community Center.

For more information or to sign up for CareerSkillsNow, visit

Watch the CareerSkillsNow Video