Duke Energy Helps Fund Workforce Development Initiative in South Carolina
COLUMBIA — As part of its commitment to bolster South Carolina’s manufacturing base, Duke Energy will fund workforce development initiatives in the state to help provide a next generation workforce in key cluster areas. These initiatives will advance economic development and enhance employment opportunities for South Carolinians, thereby providing industry with a highly qualified pool of employees.
The move will spur job growth by helping develop a labor force with specific skills in STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics — and specifically in advanced manufacturing to support South Carolina’s burgeoning manufacturing industry.
Duke will fund the Clemson University Center for Workforce Development with a $4.11 million grant to manage educational, research and outreach activities in support of workforce development and STEM education.
The Center for Workforce Development will oversee distribution of these funds to partner institutions that include universities, technical colleges, K-12 institutions and STEM-oriented organizations through competitive grants, scholarships and internships.
The center is well positioned to leverage these partnerships to support and extend Duke Energy’s educational and workforce development initiatives. A series of workshops will be conducted to facilitate this effort.
“OUR GOAL is to ensure our citizens are ready to compete and succeed in the job market, particularly in the advanced manufacturing sector that is so essential to South Carolina’s economy.” — Dr. Doris Helms, Clemson University Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Duke Energy’s funding, combined with previously announced funding from the U.S. Department of Labor, the Employment and Training Administration and the National Science Foundation, allows Clemson’s center to focus on expanding the talent pool to support workforce needs consistent with Clemson’s land-grant mission in four key areas:
- Improving education, capacity and access through e-learning and virtual reality simulation tools
- Creating career pathways, college affordability and graduation-rate improvement
- Supporting K-12 STEM education initiatives
- Industry cluster networking through outreach and research
“Such a systemic approach to workforce and economic development is effective because it is implemented from the lowest levels to the highest levels,” said Clark Gillespy, Duke Energy state president — South Carolina.
“Duke Energy recognizes that workforce development and economic development go hand in hand,” Gillespy said. “The Center for Workforce Development, through its far-reaching partnerships, addresses the challenges of creating next-generation engineers, technicians and scientists so the region and nation can continue to be competitive in a global marketplace.”
The center’s e-learning initiatives focus on creating innovative educational tools — aligned with industry employment needs — to increase workforce capacity. The center also supports working professionals who wish to upgrade their skills and further their qualifications.
“The university is committed to meeting the state’s technical workforce needs at every level, not just jobs requiring a four-year or advanced degree,” said Dr. Doris R. Helms, Clemson University Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.
Dr. Helms continued, “Our goal is to ensure our citizens are ready to compete and succeed in the job market, particularly in the advanced manufacturing sector that is so essential to South Carolina’s economy.”
“We need strong industry partners to achieve this goal, and Duke Energy’s commitment
to bolster South Carolina’s workforce and manufacturing base shows the company is a willing partner. We look forward to working with them to build a nationally respected program.”
Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt said, “Workforce development is about getting it just right: the right skills for jobs at the right time. In order for South Carolina to continue to be a national leader in advanced manufacturing and create a friendly business climate, we must close the gap between our workforce skills and business needs. This partnership between the state and the business community extends across the entire education spectrum and addresses the growing and emergent workforce development issue.”
Duke Energy’s funding will help create virtual resources designed to support industrial development, sponsor competitive award opportunities for K-12 and technical college classrooms, support scholarships and internships across multiple South Carolina institutions of higher education, and finance conferences to create greater awareness of workforce development issues.
“This program, underpinned by solid partnerships, is vital for workforce development in South Carolina if the state is going to meet the needs of industry,” said Clemson’s Anand K. Gramopadhye, Associate Vice President for Economic Development and Director of the Center for Workforce Development.
“Our goal is to develop more qualified employees to work in industries that drive the nation’s economy,” Gramopadhye said. “By fostering these partnerships, we can develop the workforce of the future.”
The Duke Energy commitment is part of Clemson’s The Will to Lead capital campaign, which aims to raise $1 billion to support university priorities, including workforce and economic development.