OEA and Hamilton Career Center celebrate NOW Graduates

The Oconee Economic Alliance (OEA) and the Hamilton Career Center in the School District of Oconee County (SDOC) are celebrating 18 student graduates of the inaugural class of the NOW program, tells Daja Dial, Marketing and Communications Manager of OEA. “Nurturing Oconee’s Workforce, NOW, is a unique program designed collaboratively by the OEA and the SDOC. The accomplishments of the inaugural class of the NOW students was celebrated at the Hamilton Career Center’s yearly Skills and Scholars Awards Ceremony on May 8. With manufacturing as the back bone of Oconee County, serving as the home to over 60 diverse industries, this innovative program was created to ensure students enter the workforce prepared with a skill set that provides them a competitive edge over their peers. The skill-sets learned today by the students of Oconee County prepare them for the jobs of tomorrow, as well as give Oconee County a competitive economic development edge. This is what makes this program a win-win for everyone involved.” The NOW Program is manufacturing focused and began in the fall of 2016. Principals and guidance counselors selected 30 students, 10 from each local high school, to be a part of the inaugural class. Participants attended monthly off-campus meetings that address advanced employment skills as well as learned about programs and careers surrounding machining, welding, maintenance, and engineering. Students were also provided opportunities for industry exposure and networking, sometimes one-on-one, with Oconee County’s top manufacturing employers and partners including: BorgWarner, ITT, I Tech South, Just Aircraft, Sandvik, Itron, Koyo Bearings, Clemson University and Tri-County Technical College. As a result of the networking, many students have and will take part in paid summer internships while others plan on working full-time in their respective field beginning this fall. While several students were recognized as NOW scholars, some students also received college scholarships, paired with industry employment. That is correct; there were students who walked away from the awards ceremony with college scholarships and a job before graduating from high school. That is what we call developing a competitive and viable workforce. One student in particular who received a $3,000 scholarship was Colin Keylon. Colin received the RBC Scholar Award, which will aid in his continued education at Tri-County Technical College in the fall. The goal of the NOW Program is to continue to foster an environment of collaboration between Oconee County schools and businesses in order to nurture Oconee County’s workforce.