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Volunteers sought to speak to students on career choices
Members of the Kershaw County Chamber of Commerce Executive Board of Directors wear red noses in support of Red Nose Day, an effort to combat childhood poverty. Members include (front row, from left) Deborah Outlaw, Tara Williams, Chamber Executive Director Liz Horton, Dr. Allyson Monferdini, Loree Stokes, (back row) Melony Hudson-Martin, John Thomas, Camden Mayor Tony Scully, John Wells and Jonathan Potter. - photo by Gary Phillips

With economic development and workforce readiness being hot topics these days, SC Works is asking area business people to share their wisdom and skills with students in Kershaw County and the surrounding area so they will better understand what is needed in today’s business world.

That was the message Thursday when SC Works’ Laurey Carpenter addressed the Kershaw County Chamber of Commerce’s executive board to explain her new job as Workforce Development Youth Specialist and the valuable role the business community can play in advising youths.

“I am working with the school districts and also with businesses to get our children engaged, to learn soft skills, to actually know why they’re in school, to be able to become a successful employee and also to stay in our area,” Carpenter said. “We hear our businesses say our children, our youth, our employees are not trained properly, they don’t have the work ethic, so I have the job title of bridging that gap.”

Carpenter said she is enlisting business leaders to visit schools to speak to students not only about the value of education, but also the value of the life skills they should be learning at school.

“There are 16 different career clusters that cover every type of business. You can be an entrepreneur you can be working on an assembly line, you could be a computer technician. The trend for the school districts right now is information technology,” she said.

Carpenter said businesses which participate in the program would not be investing a lot of time.

“We’re looking at possibly four times a year to have a career expo, in the sense that we’re going to have local businesses come into our local school district and explain what they do, or a job they’ve done previously,” she said. “We want to expose children to different career opportunities they have. It is not forever. I’m just trying to find something so the local school district can reach out to these individuals under these different topics.”

Carpenter provided a paper comparing the school and work experiences, such as being expected to arrive on time, having proper attire and behavior, doing homework for school or overtime for a job, proper communication in both settings and other examples of the similarities between the two.

Chamber Past President John Thomas, presiding over the board meeting, said getting the business community involved in workforce training is an excellent idea.

“This is really important when we talk about economic development and trying to attract industry,” Thomas said. 

Carpenter concluded by passing a round a sign-up sheet for contact information for those willing to participate.

“Any information you can provide to the children to spark their interest is greatly appreciate,” she said.

Board members wrapped up the meeting by showing their support for “Red Nose Day,” an effort to combat childhood poverty, by donning red noses for a photo.