Trident Workforce Investment Board Welding Program Receives National Recognition

Charleston, SC, December 25, 2008 --( The Trident Workforce Investment Board Trident Area Welding Initiative received the U.S. Department of Labor’s Recognition of Excellence Award in the “tapping the talents of special populations in the workforce” category for its Trident Area Welding Initiative at the national 2008 Workforce Innovations Conference.

The Recognition of Excellence Awards honor workforce investment system programs from around the country that have achieved outstanding success.

The Trident Area Welding Initiative was designed to achieve four specific objectives:

Establish a workforce system supported training program in response to industry demand;

Create an opportunity for the detention center population to obtain a marketable skill, portable credential, long term employment, and a self sufficient wage;

Provide opportunities for regional employers to acquire and train workers from an untapped pool; and

Develop a public-private partnership.

Six local partners collaborated to create and implement this innovative welder training program, designed to meet the critical shortage of trained welders in the Trident area:

Charleston County, South Carolina, Detention Center / Sheriffs Department: assessed inmate interest; recruited inmates for training; verified background checks on each participant to ensure there is no history of violent crime; showed evidenced recidivism; gauged work ethic of each potential participant; and provided transportation to and from training / work location.

Protected Vehicles, Inc.: assessed risk of using this unconventional applicant pool; provided a training facility, safe training environment, and supplies for the program; and the promise of good wages and benefits to those who successfully completed the training.

South Carolina Employment Security Commission: provided staff to post jobs, screened applicants, and conducted eligibility at the detention center and worked with the inmates to prepare them for the job.

Trident One Stop Career System: provided WIA funding, initial eligibility, job readiness preparation, case management, consumables, and job placement; and served as a liaison to facilitate the project.

Trident Technical College: developed specialized curriculum; provided training, follow up, and placement assistance, as well as work related career counseling.

readySC, the State of South Carolina’s Technology and Training Program: provided welding booths, and placement assistance; conducted an evening class to accommodate some of the inmates who were released early.

Inmates completed a five week, 30-hour per week curriculum which included: job expectations; basic workplace safety; 150 hours flux core welder training; interactive trainer / trainee environment; and an employer observation period. Upon graduating from the program, applicants attended a job fair and were offered positions, which continued their training through WIA funded on-the-job training contracts.

To date, 63 detention center residents completed the program and obtained jobs with wages between $13-16 per hour. More than $161,250 was paid in child support arrears and children of the inmates were added to employer benefit plans. There has been an 86% decrease in recidivism and only one inmate had been re-incarcerated for non-payment of child support after leaving employment. Seven females entered the training program and completed training in a non-traditional employment field.

This program serves as a model and can be replicated as a pre-release vocational training program that has a proven history of reducing the rate of recidivism, increasing the frequency of child support payments, and contributing to the local economy. The model has received widespread regional and national interest. It is being considered for implementation in other states to train inmates for local businesses.

The mission of the Trident Workforce Investment Board is to develop the region’s workforce by providing high quality workforce development programs and services to its customers. To accomplish this mission it created a market driven and user friendly workforce system investing workforce funding to recruit, prepare, and train workers with the skills needed to support existing industry and attract new industry to the tri-county region.

The Trident Workforce Investment Board (TWIB) provides funding for programs to develop the regional workforce training workers with advanced skills to meet regional workforce challenges through the Trident One Stop Career System. The Trident One Stop Career System is a nationally recognized workforce development system staffed by some of the best trained workforce professionals in the nation. The Trident One-Stop Career Center is located at 1930 Hanahan Road in North Charleston. Satellite Centers are located in Moncks Corner, Summerville and Charleston. For more information on available services and programs or to find the center nearest to you, call 843-574-1800.

Trident Workforce Investment Board
Susan Jeanne Mertz
(843) 821-3283