Maybe you've heard it before, but the skilled trades like electrical, HVAC, and construction are struggling to find workers. It's said that for every 4 skilled workers retiring or leaving the industry, only 1 is entering. With competitive wages and high employability, it's a reliable career path, but trade industries struggle to recruit the next generation.
Enter the South Carolina Ride and Decide Program. Currently in its pilot program, SC Ride and Decide works to pair students and high schools with industry contractors in their region. The program lets students experience the trade during summer break, assisting in paid work activities. The Ride and Decide Program is a project of the South Carolina Association of Heating and Air Conditioning.
Senior year of high school can be a stressful time. In addition to finishing important coursework, teenagers are tasked with figuring out plans for life after high school. For some, college is the next step, but many are still unsure of what to study or pursue for a career path.
For Mark Phillips of North Myrtle Beach High School, the Ride and Decide program allowed him to work with Myrtle Beach's Cooper Mechanical Services, an unlimited license electrical and HVAC contractor. Phillips works part-time with the Cooper team in a variety of areas including business growth. For Phillips, the program provides him a well-paying part-time job and the ability to learn about specific jobs he may decide to pursue in the future.
For Cooper Mechanical Services and many businesses like them, Phillips represents the future of the skilled tradesmen and women. "Having Mark on board is a wonderful," said Glenn Cooper, founder and president of CMS. "The relationships we are building with students and high school administrators is a great thing for our community and the industry."
Another Cooper employee is also praising the new program. "Finding quality HVAC people has been a challenge," remarks Mike Ruggieri, Cooper's HVAC Clean & Service Manager. "We hope that this program will let young people see that there are good jobs in HVAC here that pay well and let you work with new challenges everyday."
The Ride and Decide program is open to any South Carolina high school junior or senior meeting the following requirements:
To participate, student must: