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S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce partners with Scotsman Ice Systems

by Kristin Coulter | Nov 22, 2019

For Immediate Release

November 22, 2019

 

S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce partners with Scotsman Ice Systems

Exploring workforce solutions at the local level in Allendale County

In a rural county with an energetic manufacturer looking for workers, a partnership aimed at helping find employees for its international production line created a pilot project that has resulted in every participant now either working or actively interviewing.

A recently announced record 2,318,762 South Carolinians are working in an era of historic low levels of statewide unemployment with October’s 2.6 percent rate becoming the all-time low unemployment statistic.

One of the ramifications of a vibrant economy is that employers find it more difficult to fill current vacancies or to hire new people for their expanding business opportunities.

To explore possible solutions at the community level for this challenge, a working partnership between Scotsman Ice Systems and the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce led to the creation of a pilot called the Scotsman Soft Skills Program.

After an initial local recruitment effort, nine potential employees, who were pre-screened for Scotsman requirements, were enrolled in the inaugural training class. Over a six-week period, Department of Employment and Workforce staff taught them work skills on such subjects as conflict in the workplace, diversity in the workforce, resume writing, mock interviews, dress-for-success and other competences contributing to an efficient and productive workplace.

Scotsman is located in Fairfax, a town in Allendale County, which has a 4.1 percent unemployment rate. This privately held company enjoys a national and international market for the ice dispensers it manufactures for a variety of sectors including schools and universities, health care and lodging facilities, supermarkets, convenience stores and residences.

Scotsman is considered a good employer in terms of wages and benefits as well as working conditions, nevertheless it suffers the collective statewide problem of a workforce shortage, interlinked with such complex issues as rural transportation difficulties and child care affordability and availability. 

The eight pilot-program graduates (one of the initial nine was hired by another employer just after the classes began) were placed at the head of the line for hiring interviews for open positions at Scotsman. Four of the eight were hired by Scotsman, which immediately began their necessary occupational training.

One of the key elements in the pilot program is that participants received an individual career-readiness assessment that demonstrates their strengths and weaknesses and points to the types of jobs that would allow them to reach their potential. Several discovered that while they may not have the skill set for manufacturing work, they were drawn to other employment fields such as warehouse, sales and customer service – and their job applications have led to interviews with other employers. Of the four who did not join Scotsman, three are continuing to interview for permanent jobs and the fourth has started work with another employer.

An analysis will be performed to measure the pilot program’s results to determine how employees who have gone through the program compare with workers hired off the street from a standpoint of productivity, efficiency, quality, attendance and other workplace rules compliance.

If the results are positive, the pilot will be repeated once and then replicated with other employers throughout South Carolina.

Regardless of the future of the concept, the Town of Allendale enthusiastically embraced the Scotsman pilot, passing a resolution commending the eight for successfully completing the training program. Allendale County has a labor force of 2,784, with 2,671 citizens working – meaning there are 131 people unemployed in the county. And six of the nine pre-screened by Scotsman are now working and no longer in the unemployed category.

This Thanksgiving season brings cheerful job statistics for the Palmetto State’s families.

“The news is astounding. An unemployment rate of 2.6 percent. More than 58,000 new jobs created in 2019. More than 12,000 people removed from the unemployed ranks during this year. This is the best news that employees could possibly get. For employers, the news is split. The incredibly low unemployment rate will make it more difficult to find employees. On the other hand, our agency’s announcement of a 34 percent tax rate cut for unemployment insurance will save South Carolina businesses approximately $68 million,” said Dan Ellzey, executive director of the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce. “To help employers find employees, our agency is actively working to identify and train employees to fill the open positions. Whether it is ‘smart training,’ flexible shift options or other innovative approaches toward finding employees, we are working hard on the issue and we invite business to bring us their challenges. We will build a tailored program to find and prepare jobseekers for their work.”

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About the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce

The S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce is putting South Carolinians to work. The agency has four missions: (1) workforce development; (2) free job match employment services; (3) unemployment insurance; and (4) labor market information. All four missions contribute to workforce development. The agency is dedicated to advancing South Carolina through services and programs that meet the needs of our businesses, jobseekers and those looking to advance their careers.




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