Infrastructure Workforce development top issues
The South Carolina Chamber of Commerce is pushing for improving South Carolina’s infrastructure and skilled workforce pipeline this year. The organization, the unified voice of business for the state, recently released its 2015 Competitiveness Agenda,
The agenda outlines the business community’s legislative priorities, providing the basis for the organization’s advocacy with the state’s legislature each year.
“We are unified in the need for a long-term recurring infrastructure plan and forward movement on workforce development priorities,” said Ted Pitts, new president and CEO of the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce.
Pitts outlined the 2015 Competitiveness Agenda at the Aiken Chamber’s First Friday Means Business breakfast on February 6. He explained the need to highlight two key issues with the South Carolina General Assembly, rather than have several advocacy issues as was done in the past.
“This laser focus not only speaks to the need to address these critical areas now, but it also speaks to a larger, long-term strategy for South Carolina,” Pitts said.
The 2015 Competitiveness Agenda focuses on the following two key issues while pushing for an overall improvement in other important areas.
South Carolina public policy leaders must develop a comprehensive, sustainable and recurring funding plan for infrastructure. With the strong link between infrastructure, safety, job creation and economic development, funding must be a top priority in 2015. Investing in infrastructure is a core function of government. Building for the future will drive economic growth and job creation.
The South Carolina Chamber supports: a comprehensive, sustainable and recurring funding solution, developed together and supported by the executive and legislative branches, for the state’s roads and bridges, using the priority system in place under the South Carolina Department of Transportation for interstate expansion and improvement, secondary road maintenance and bridge repair.
As South Carolina continues to recover from the economic downturn, a manufacturing renaissance has led the way for new job announcements. Couple that with many experienced workers on the verge of retirement, and South Carolina is faced with a shortage of critical needs workers. Critical needs jobs are those that require more education than a high school diploma but less than a four-year degree. These post-secondary education or training requirements can include associate’s degrees, vocational certificates, significant on-the-job training, previous work experience and/or some college. According to the SC Department of Employment and Workforce, critical needs jobs account for 45% of the workforce while only 29% of people have the necessary skills to fill these jobs, creating a shortage of workers.
The South Carolina Chamber supports: An increased focus on programs to develop a skilled workforce to support existing and new business in South Carolina.
Improving South Carolina
South Carolina must continue to improve its business climate to create a competitive global environment. Tax reform, education, health care costs, energy and environmental issues, federal matters and other key issues must be addressed to encourage expanded economic development opportunities.
The South Carolina Chamber’s annual competitiveness agenda is developed through a grassroots effort with local chambers of commerce. Aiken County business and community leaders, along with other counties in the Midlands, provided their input on upcoming legislative issues last fall. Infrastructure and workforce development concerns were at the top of the list.
To read more on the SC Chamber’s 2015 Competitiveness Agenda, visit www.scchamber.net.