Study: Charleston businesses struggle to hire local graduates

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - New information from the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce shows some Charleston-area students are graduating without the skill sets to qualify for a local job.

The study from the chamber shows students in the Lowcountry are graduating without the skills local employers need.

“The reality is the demand in certain sectors of our economy is well out pacing what our local education institutions are currently providing, so right now we are importing a lot of our talent to fill the available jobs,” Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce Senior VP for Talent Advancement Tina Wirth said.

A local education non-profit called Cradle to Career says only 65% of our local students are ready for a career after graduation.

Wirth said if local kids are graduating more prepared, it could have trickle down effects across the Lowcountry.

“The employers need the talent, but if we can get more young people in these particular in-demand occupational areas then we don’t need to rely on external talent as much,” said Wirth. “It’s going to be better for the local economy.”

Wirth said there have been difficulties filling manufacturing, IT, construction, and hospitality jobs.

Wirth presented the study on Monday to the Charleston County School Board.

CCSD School Board member Cindy Coats said she’s glad to know this information so they can better prepare their students.

“The county voted for us to expand and build more career technology centers like the one on the Wando campus. We need this information now, so we can create those programs,” said Coats.

Coats said this information allows students and instructors to tell students about career options they may not know about.

“Five years ago, we thought our job ended when they got their diploma,” said Coats. “We realize now the well being of our graduates and our careers is part of our job as a school district by working with entities that can bring this information to us so. That way we can focus on education why someone puts this together. But we can utilize this information to make students prepared.”

Wirth said by having exposure to certain career fields, it can open opportunities they may not know about.

“When they get the chance to pick up a wrench or type code into a computer, they are so much more likely to think of that as a career vocation,” said Wirth.

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