Midlands Technical College (MTC) is a comprehensive, multi-campus, two-year public college serving the primary region of Richland, Lexington, and Fairfield counties of South Carolina. College programs and services provide accessible, affordable, quality education that prepares a diverse student population to succeed in the job market, to transfer to four-year colleges and universities, and to achieve their professional and personal goals. The college equitably provides higher education opportunities that stimulate the local economy by generating a world-class workforce and enhancing the social vitality of the community. Additionally, MTC is the largest provider of veteran’s educational benefits to service members and their families in the state. The college enrolls on average more than 1,000 veterans each year. Military Times selected MTC as a Best College for Veterans in 2019, the only two-year college in the state to receive this designation.
MTC is proud of its efforts to provide opportunity to a diverse group of students and are always employing new methods to reach those often underserved and our veteran population.
MTC’s partnership with a major health care provider in South Carolina, Prisma Health, to recruit diverse students for an apprenticeship opportunity is one example. This partnership is unique in the removal of financial, transportation, and time barriers making it less burdensome for Prisma’s employees to participate in training and advancement along a career pathway.
The college held information sessions on the Prisma Health campus. During the information sessions, interested employees learned about apprenticeships, grant funding, and training programs, completed an admissions application and a career readiness assessment, met with an advisor, and left the information session with a class schedule. A grant covered all costs related to participation in the program, which removed the upfront financial burden. Additionally, participants were registered apprentices allowing them to earn a wage while participating in training.
Classes were held at a location convenient to Prisma Health allowing participants to use public transportation to travel to and from the training site. Clinical rotations for health care programs were scheduled on-site at Prisma removing the transportation barrier. Participants attended classes during their shift. After class, participants reported to work to complete their shift.
The college’s business solutions directors are another way it works with business partners to identify and recruit unemployed and underemployed individuals. This team continually gathers information on the training priorities of area industries as well as works with community partners to identify individuals in need of upskilling to qualify for high-demand, high-wage jobs. The Business Solutions team is a dedicated group of employees employing industry sector strategies that maintain strong professional knowledge of workforce issues and provide solutions supporting business and industry growth in the college service area.
During National Apprenticeship week, MTC hosted a virtual employer panel and Q&A session. Twenty-four employers attended and heard first-hand from their peers at other companies about how they successfully implemented and used apprenticeships to reach their workforce goals. This event was so successful in generating interest and registering new apprenticeship programs that it was repeated in February. Additionally, hosting online apprentice recruiting events with business partners has allowed MTC to continue to promote and recruit apprentices while personal contact is limited due to the pandemic. These events showcase the benefits of apprenticeships and generate an increase in interest and the number of registered apprentices.
MTC serves Fort Jackson, which houses 12,000 military families and serves 46,000 plus retirees and their families. Many exiting soldiers choose to stay or move to the Columbia area to stay close to the base and the services it provides. The college works closely with exiting soldiers, veterans their family members to provide job training and apprenticeship opportunities; and anticipate promoting new apprenticeship opportunities with this highly desirable group of veterans and their families.
MTC strives to be inclusive of the diverse regional population it serves. To date, MTC’s diversity efforts are well documented in current grant participant demographics, which include 57% females, 43% males, and 38% minority students. New apprenticeship grants have begun implementation involving MTC and SC education partners, which will continue to promote new apprenticeship opportunities to veterans and their families due to local employer support for this highly skilled and dedicated population.