The S.C. Higher Education tour visits Walterboro

It seems as if higher education in South Carolina is considered so important to our workforce's future that a majority of the communities with two-year USC campuses don't have a technical college campus in their community: Allendale, Lancaster, Union, and Walterboro. Only Sumter has both a two-year USC campus and a technical college campus.

Today, we visit the USC campus in Walterboro. Here, like any technical college, you can earn your Associate Degree and transfer that credit to any public college in South Carolina. In fact, there are four full-fledged Bachelor's awarding public colleges within 80 or so miles: The Citadel, College of Charleston, S.C. State, and USC Beaufort's great new campus near Hardeeville.

But in a region with high unemployment, which struggles to attract any kind of good paying jobs, this community and this region does not have convenient access to a technical college campus. Don't believe me? Just look at these statistics:

2005 Avg Weekly wages: Colleton Cty: $511; South Carolina:$637; U.S.: $777.

Colleton County workforce availability study of regional employers - see page 16:
Unskilled workers, rated good and excellent - 81%
Skilled workers, rated good and excellent - 42%
Technical workers, rated good and excellent - 30%
Professional workers, rated good and excellent - 37%

In looking at these statistics, obviously wages are way down, which probably has something to do with a shortage of skilled, technical and professional labor. A community with a lot more unskilled workers than skilled ones can expect this - as I've found out anytime I've tried to fill a skilled or technical position for my company with a qualified applicant from the Walterboro area.

It is no secret that areas with large supplies of unskilled workers, and shortages of skilled workers attract low-wage jobs, if any at all. When just over 100 people in a county with approximately forty thousand received technical degrees or certificates between 2002 and 2004, it seems like the situation is getting worse, not better.

Somehow, our state's higher education decision makers think this community needs a two-year USC campus, but not a technical college campus? Go figure.

7 Response to "The S.C. Higher Education tour visits Walterboro"

  1. Wanker 27/4/07 11:05
    but that doesn't mean they'll get off their dead asses and get an education OR a job.

    i say let them rot.

    what does Ty think? he's my daddy.
  2. Brian McCarty 27/4/07 11:42
    The more access to higher education the better.
  3. Moye 27/4/07 12:28
    Does anything to do with education in SC make sense.
  4. Anonymous 27/4/07 12:38
    yeah, brian, but why a USC campus, but not a tech campus? seems as if the tech campus is needed more.
  5. Brian McCarty 29/4/07 04:02
    Anon, you make a good point. As an old econ guy, I have always argued that the world needs auto mechanics, machine operators, carpenters, welders, even trash truck operators as well as doctors, lawyers and teachers. I even wrote a paper once that lamented about what "professionals" would do if they had to collect their own garbage and the like.

    I respect people who have a trade and are good at it. I respect the skilled welder or the man who knows everything about running the trash truck. I don't care if they have a four year degree. Not everyone needs one to be happy and lead fulfilling lives in our economy.

    As for the Tech schools, I know one Tech school grad who went on to be general manager of a Fortune 500 company's division. But, his two year degree from Tech got him in the door. I call that guy dad.

    So, I am a big fan of the Tech colleges. But, if a USC campus gets the same thing done for people, who cares what we call it, USC-whatever, or Whatever Tech. As long as people have the access to better themselves and compete in the economy.
  6. Earl Capps 29/4/07 20:18
    Brian, the problem is that if you look at a majority of the counties where there are two-year USC campuses, statistics indicate that there is a major problem with the skill level of the local workforce, which translates into higher unemployment and lower wages.

    Colleton County is no exception to that rule. An Associate of Arts or Sciences degree is good to transfer, but alone offers little to prospective employers.
    All it gets is someone who is ready to relocate out of that area in search of a higher education, who probably won't be coming back.

    Certificates and degrees within the technical education system would do far more to meet the workforce needs in the rural areas, and any technical college can issue an Associate degree for transfer students as well.

    But a two-year USC campus can't offer those courses.

    USC Salkehatchie in Walterboro isn't what that that community needs to meet its higher ed needs.
  7. Anonymous 6/8/08 09:32

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