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Workforce Development

In Governor Henry McMaster's 2021 State of the State address, he emphasized, "The next generation’s workforce must possess the education and skills necessary for South Carolina to compete for jobs and capital in the world’s economy. Today marks the beginning of a rare opportunity for transformation."

As our state continues to recover and rebuild from the pandemic, it provides a unique opportunity for our agency to continue to provide critical workforce and training opportunities for South Carolinians. This is a mission DEW has always prioritized, but now more than ever, we believe these programs, offered through our SC Works Center partners, can provide the imperative foundation needed to build the pipeline of quality workers our employers so desperately need.

Skill Training Initiatives

Across the state, DEW has developed partnerships with organizations to create job opportunities for South Carolinians. Whether it is improving access to high-quality job training and employment services along the coast or working with the homeless population to develop the skills needed to land and keep a job in the Midlands, the agency is working to meet the workforce needs in each region.

Back to Work

Targeted to individuals who were homeless and are current residents of Columbia's Transitions housing organization, the Back to Work program is an intensive six-week employment boot camp. By providing the necessary guidance and soft skills to maintain gainful employment and self-sufficiency, the program helps individuals establish life-long independence. The combination of transitioning participants to housing as well as employment creates a comprehensive approach for long-term success.

Session highlights include:

  • Skills assessment
  • Resume templates and writing assistance
  • Computer skills courses
  • Review of employment websites
  • Employment resources such as dressing for an interview
  • Expectations, social skills and behavioral styles
  • Exploration of careers and job types

The Back to Work program is offered in coordination with DEW, Transitions and Main Street United Methodist Church. To learn more about the program, contact project coordinator Patrick Thomas at PThomas@dew.sc.gov.

Jobs for America's Graduates South Carolina (JAG-SC)

Jobs for America's Graduates (JAG) is a state-based national non-profit organization dedicated to preventing dropouts among young people who are most at-risk. In more than three decades of operation, JAG has helped more than one million young people across the nation stay in school through graduation, pursue post-secondary education and secure quality entry-level jobs leading to career advancement opportunities.


JAG-SC is a program run by DEW and is a proven dropout prevention program assisting some of the state's most deserving youth in graduating from high school and moving confidently toward the realization of their dreams. For eight consecutive years, the program has been awarded the National JAG "5-of-5" Award for exceeding all five of the national standards for graduation rate, school placement rates, total positive outcomes rates, job placement rates, and full-time jobs rates.

Learn more about the JAG program.

To find out more about the statewide program, contact DEW's JAG-SC Coordinator, Elaine Midkiff at emidkiff@dew.sc.gov.

Second Chance Program

Under the direction of Gov. Nikki Haley’s office, S.C. Department of Corrections (SCDC) and the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) created the Second Chance initiative to help returning citizens learn a skill and understand how to successfully search for a job. By helping individuals prepare for employment, they gain confidence, purpose, and direction, reducing the recidivism rate. In order to participate in many of these programs, specific requirements must be met by the participant, including a disciplinary-free record and non-violent offenses for incarceration.

Started as a pilot project in a Columbia facility, the Second Chance program expanding to additional facilities. Through this initiative, DEW provides a full-time employee, coaching and materials to assist returning citizens in work-skills training. Ninety days prior to release, ex-offenders are taught employment and soft skills in class for one hour each day. During the last 30 days, participants work directly with a DEW counselor to become registered in the SC Works system, craft a resume and apply for jobs online once released.The skills they learn through the Second Chance Initiative help leverage the skills they’ve acquired through the work programs.

Participants in the Second Chance Initiative receive a folder at the time of release that includes a Federal Bonding letter, several copies of their resume, a letter of explanation that outlines their personal situation, information on the SC Works centers across the state and contact information for a case manager in their local SC Works center, and any other information or available resources relevant to that individual.

To become a second chance employer, contact Grey Parks at 803-737-0086 or via email at bparks@dew.sc.gov.

Learn more about the federal bonding program.

Learn about tax credits available to employers that hire returning citizens.

Palmetto Academic and Training Hub (PATh)

The state’s Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Eligible Training Provider List has been renamed the Palmetto Academic and Training Hub (PATh) and updated to better link individuals to organizations that can provide education and training to enhance their career path. It is easier to use for both the individual as well as training providers with improved navigation, more robust capabilities and metrics.

PATh is a catalog of academic programs, including classroom, correspondence, online and apprenticeship opportunities that support local in-demand occupations. Training providers and their curriculum are added to the list through an application process administered by the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW).

Through the new PATh system, training providers will be able to:

  • Better gauge their programs' performance.
  • Renew applications.
  • Upload various kinds of data.
  • And more.

WIOA participants seeking training opportunities can use PATh to:

  • Search the provider list.
  • Search and compare programs.
  • Receive details including tuition costs, fees, program length and locations.

As South Carolina continues to develop a workforce focused on skills sought by regional employers, DEW, the State Workforce Development Board, Local Workforce Development Boards, SC Works and local training providers redesigned this innovative approach to capturing training provider and program information, incorporating future performance data: Palmetto Academic and Training Hub.

Job Ready U.

The S.C. Job Ready U. soft skills curriculum provides state partners, businesses and educational entities the opportunity to enhance their client’s, student’s and employee’s abilities through 11 skills modules.

S.C. Job Ready U. has two soft skills modules, Basic Employability and Professional Work Ethic that highlight specific skill sets to develop your employees. Soft skills are important attributes such as communication skills, time management and problem solving skills. In addition, the other nine courses are designed to sharpen skills needed in today's workplace.

The online curriculum is available at no cost to jobseekers, existing workers and businesses as a resource to strengthen any organization’s workforce.

If you are an individual that is interested in using the online training to upskill for a job, specialize in a field or to help you learn soft skills for employment you can be placed into the program in your area. If you are an organization or school that wants to implement the complimentary curriculum, it requires an appointed administer, two instructors and a designee. Contact Towanna Hicks at thicks@dew.sc.gov and identify yourself as an individual or organization to set up Job Ready U. that is customized for your needs.

This curriculum is an additional method of training, but does not replace any existing programs, such as Career Readiness 101.

The 11 skills modules include:

  • Reading Comprehension
  • Location Information
  • Critical Thinking/Analytic Skills
  • Basic Math
  • Mathematical Applications
  • Introduction to computing
  • Computer Application and Skills-Word
  • Computer Application and Skills-PowerPoint
  • Computer Application and Skills- Excel
  • Basic Employability
  • Professional Work Ethic

Learn more about the 11 skills modules (PDF).
Visit the S.C. Job Ready U. website to register and learn more.

View an overview of what the soft skills curriculum has to offer (PDF).

View a user guide to help you navigate South Carolina Job Ready U. (PDF).

The S.C. Job Ready U. curriculum is offered in coordination with DEW and Clemson. To learn more about the program, contact Towanna Hicks at thicks@dew.sc.gov.