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This release prepared by the Office of Public Relations and Marketing.
Rebecca Eidson, Director, 646-1507,
Lisa Garrett, Public Relations Associate, 646-1506,

AdvanceSC Grant Offers Solutions to Shortage of Skilled Machinists



(By Lisa Garrett)

PENDLETON --- Finding skilled metal workers these days is a job in itself, says Sargent Metal President Tim Hayden.

“We spend a tremendous amount of time looking for skilled metal workers/fabricators for our company,” said Hayden, who leads the Anderson-based company that specializes in making precision metal fabricated components.  “We’ve been able to be successful in hiring people who are already skilled and have moved down South.  But there aren’t enough of them,” he said.

“We want to mold our own,” he added.

Tri-County Technical College and local industry have banded together to address the shortage in several ways. 

A $249,775 grant from AdvanceSC will move the College forward in being more responsive to addressing the shortage of skilled metal fabrication employees and machinists.  Tri-County will work with local companies to create customized training programs for their specific needs.

AdvanceSC supports education, economic growth, existing manufacturing and public assistance agencies in Duke Energy’s South Carolina service area.  Established as a limited liability company by Duke Energy in 2004, AdvanceSC is funded with profits from the company’s BPM program and is managed by a board of Upstate SC leaders.  “Tri-County Technical College shares the goals of Duke Energy used in establishing our organization, and we’re privileged to partner with them in order to benefit so many people in our community,” said Robert M. Hitt, president of AdvanceSC.

Tri-County’s plan includes Component I, which provides potential students with an option of becoming skilled tool and die and sheet metal fabricators through a customized training program.  Component II provides individuals with an option to gain basic skills in manufacturing that could qualify them to enter the machine tool technical scholars program.  “Addressing these two components as a single project assures the local industries with a continuous pipeline of skilled metal fabrication workers and machinists,” said Eugene Grant, dean of the College’s Industrial and Engineering Technology Division.   

In addition, the College and industry are collaborating on a new Machine Tool Technology (MTT) Technical Scholars Program that will be mutually beneficial for both.  The Scholars Program began this fall with six students, who work 30 hours per week for four local employers (BorgWarner, Oconee Machine and Tool, Wallace Tool and Die and Sponsler, Inc.) while taking evening classes.  Each industry will name an employee to act as a mentor to the students.  The mentor will set workplace goals and coordinate work assignments.  Participants can expect to graduate in three years with an MTT degree.

 “The MTT Scholars Program will allow us to grow our own from within,” said Grant, adding that there are benefits for employers and students.  “Students can earn while they learn, and existing workers will have opportunity to gain machine tool credentials while continuing to work.” 

Replacing aged equipment in the MTT labs with modern technology found in today’s workplace is another priority of the College in its quest to step up enrollment and produce work-ready graduates. 
In addition to the AdvanceSC grant, the College received a $150,000 grant from The Timken Foundation to allow the MTT program to complete the first year of a three-year plan to upgrade or replace critical pieces of equipment.  The College will be purchasing five HAAS CNC toolroom lathes and one contour band saw, in addition to a 5 axis machining center.

The AdvanceSC grant will support the Timken grant to upgrade the Machine Tool Technology lab at a faster pace, said Grant.

“The Timken and AdvanceSC grants will allow the College to modernize the MTT lab with equipment that meets industry standards so students learn to operate the type of equipment that they will be using in the workplace,” said Grant.

Tri-County also will purchase a press brake and laser cutter, two pieces of machinery already being used by Sargent Metals, Timken in Honea Path and other area industries.  “Hiring skilled machinists will allow us to have production capability quickly.  Now, it takes us six to 12 months to train someone to be fully operational on a piece of machinery,” said Hayden.  “This machinery and the apprenticeship program will reduce our training time dramatically.”

“This equipment puts us at an industrial level with state-of-the-art processes.  Graduates will be work ready their first day on the job,” said Grant.

For more information, contact Eugene Grant at 646- 1341 or



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