The massive Be Pro Be Proud SC trailer made its way to Chapin Middle, Dutch Fork Middle and Irmo Middle Schools giving students an opportunity to see and test out, through virtual reality, various high-paying skilled and technical positions available in the workforce.
Dutch Fork Middle School Career Specialist Fiona Lofton spearheaded the effort to bring the Be Pro Be Proud SC opportunity to School District Five.“We learned about this workshop through the Midlands Education Business Alliance via a networking opportunity and decided to collaborate with Chapin Middle and Irmo Middle to bring the program to our district,” Lofton said.
Be Pro Be Proud SC is a workforce development project designed to close the skills-gap in South Carolina. The program takes a unique, targeted approach to remove the stigma from “blue-collar” jobs with the goal of educating students and the public on the appeal and the importance of these jobs for our economy.
The custom-designed, military-grade, double-expandable semi-trailer is loaded with hands-on simulators of a variety of skilled trades, including welding, truck driving, heavy equipment operation, diesel technician, and lineman. The rolling workshop travels throughout the state to schools, fairs, career centers, conventions, government events, military re-entry programs, and more to give students an idea of the high-paying professions that are available right now, don’t require a four-year college degree.
Dutch Fork Middle School eighth grader Michael Spann said his favorite part of the experience was learning about the commercial trucking industry. “It was really cool. I got to learn a lot about the trades in South Carolina and how much they pay.”
The Be Proud Be Pro SC project is modeled after the Arkansas Be Pro Be Proud initiative, and is made possible through a public-private collaborative known as the Associated Industries of South Carolina Foundation (AISCF). Capital to build the actual unit comes from AISCF, with the Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) and other public sectors handling the costs to cover several years of operation.
“Engaging our students through exploration is extremely important in the career development process and having collaborative efforts allows our students to really understand what these careers are all about,” Lofton said. “You don’t typically get to that until you are in the workforce and if students are able to have that opportunity early on it allows them to see their strengths and abilities connect and see if this is the right job fit for them.”
To learn more about Be Pro Be Proud SC, visit https://www.beprobeproudsc.org.