South Carolina’s economy is changing.

Where the state’s manufacturing industry was once largely composed of low-skilled, labor-intensive work, the South Carolina economy in recent years has shifted toward more advanced and technical manufacturing work. That’s a reality, though, that some in the state’s labor force are unprepared for, lacking the necessary training, skills or knowledge.

In response to this challenge, RBC partnered with the South Carolina-based Heritage Classic Foundation to commit $300,000 to the South Carolina Technical College System to train and support the next generation of workers. The donation was announced at the opening ceremonies of the 51st RBC Heritage golf tournament. The Heritage Classic Foundation is the general sponsor, and RBC the title sponsor, of the tournament, South Carolina’s only PGA TOUR event.

Preparing workers for a new future

In 1990, four out of 10 jobs in South Carolina could be found in textile and apparel plants, according to a 2016 article by the Washington Post. Now, twice as many people work in transportation as in textiles and apparel, the Post wrote, making it the state’s largest manufacturing sector.

Jobs in that area, many of which are located in auto plants or factories, involve highly technical automated equipment, and require workers skilled in an area called mechatronics. Mechatronics is a multidisciplinary field of engineering that combines aspects of mechanical engineering technology, robotics, electronics, computer engineering, and much more. Not surprisingly, it involves very specific and technical training.

The SC Technical College System currently offers mechatronics courses, but lacks the funding to properly prepare its faculty to meet the demands of that growing manufacturing sector. That’s where the $300,000 from RBC and the Heritage Classic Foundation will help. The funds will go to support Siemens Mechatronic System Certification programs for faculty at the state’s 16 technical colleges. The program will focus on system understanding, troubleshooting and problem-solving skills, and produce skilled technicians ready to meet South Carolina’s growing employment needs. Siemens certification is a globally recognized standard used by many of South Carolina’s manufacturing companies, including Boeing, BMW, Michelin and Bosch.

Engineering students

“RBC is committed to helping the communities where our employees and clients live and work,” says Shana Deuel, sponsorship marketing manager at RBC Wealth Management–U.S. “We are proud to partner with the Heritage Classic Foundation to help support education and training opportunities in South Carolina.”

“This partnership with the RBC Foundation and the Heritage Classic Foundation provides an excellent example of how our system strives to align our degrees and curriculum with community and industry needs,” says Dr. Tim Hardee, president of the SC Technical College System. “We look forward to working closely with our partners to train and prepare much-needed mechatronic technicians. Expansion of our offerings will help provide skilled workers—who are so important to maintaining and supporting the technologically advanced equipment at manufacturing facilities across the state.”

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