SC Gov. McMaster pushes for funding for technical colleges in Horry

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster used a visit to Horry County on Friday to push forward his plan to provide free community college to thousands of state residents.

McMaster visited the Hilton Myrtle Beach Resort — just north of the city limits — to deliver the keynote address at the South Carolina Technical Education Association’s annual conference, which was held this week at the hotel.

In a roughly 20-minute speech, McMaster reinforced his plan to spend $124 million of American Rescue Plan Act funds on scholarships for 15,000 South Carolinas.

The scholarships provide free education at technical colleges across the state, including Horry-Georgetown Technical College, for associate’s degrees or credentialing programs for “high demand” careers such as health care , IT and manufacturing.

“It’s clear to me, having been in this office and others…that our technical college system is the gold mine entrance for the people of South Carolina,” he said. told to participants.

McMaster said the state’s technical colleges are critical because they create programs to train students to work in jobs coming to the state.

McMaster said attracting new businesses here — and using technical colleges to train their workers — makes South Carolina “attractive” to employers.

“Our obligation is to educate people and train them so they can do those jobs that want to come here,” he said. “That’s all we have to do.”

State lawmakers must first approve the $124 million in spending, which would extend the scholarship program through June 2024. McMaster launched the program with $12 million last year from a fund that he controls. It has provided several thousand scholarships.

Students in Horry County are already benefiting from the program, they said.

The scholarship program would work like this:

Any recent high school graduate or adult living in South Carolina could apply to have tuition and fees for certain programs covered by the state. The recipient must maintain a GPA of 2.0 and either work, volunteer 100 hours, or take a financial literacy course as part of their studies.

The scholarships would cover the costs of several “high demand” career programs such as nursing, construction, commercial vehicle driving, logistics and IT.

McMaster noted that scholarship funds could be used for those seeking a commercial driver’s license. It’s an important program to fund now, he said, because the state is dredging Charleston Harbor, which means more trucks carrying more cargo are in the state’s future.

“This money will not be wasted,” the governor said. “The more people we have going through the technical college system, the more we realize that part of higher education is where the money is today.”

The governor also noted that in the 21st century, young people need some form of education after college if they want to land a well-paying job.

“I wouldn’t recommend going to work right (after high school) because, ladies and gentlemen, you have to be smart. This world will no longer accept models,” McMaster joked.

Asked which parts of South Carolina have less demand for these jobs, McMaster brushed off the question.

He said the demand for workers in various sectors was high and his technical college scholarship program would target the workers needed to fill the new jobs.

“South Carolina is growing, we’re growing well,” he said. “We want to do it the right way. We want to make sure we have economic growth and we need to make sure the weaknesses in our education system are corrected,” he said.

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J. Dale Shoemaker covers Horry County government with a focus on government transparency, data, and how county government serves residents. A 2016 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, he previously covered Pittsburgh city government for nonprofit media outlet PublicSource and worked on the Data & Investigations team at nj.com in New Jersey. The recipient of several local and statewide awards, both the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania and the Society of Professional Journalists, Keystone State Chapter, recognized him in 2019 for his investigation of a problematic technology entrepreneur from the Pittsburgh Police, a series that runs the Pittsburgh City Council. to enact a new law on the transparency of city contracts. You can share tips with Dale at [email protected]

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