Richland School Districts One and Two, Lexington-Richland District Five, Midlands Education & Business Alliance, S.C. Vocational Rehabilitation, Midlands Workforce and the Building Industry Association of Central South Carolina partnered with Midlands Technical College to offer the BOOM program. BOOM stands for Building Occupational Opportunities in the Midlands and is an effort to provide qualified candidates for jobs in the construction field, and to assist students who may not otherwise receive a diploma.
Students spent a semester learning construction techniques at Midlands Tech's Airport Campus. After completing the program, students received a Midlands Tech continuing education certificate, a tool belt and OSHA certification. They also had an opportunity to interview with potential employers and several have received job offers in the construction field.
Midlands Technical College Program Director Vince Earls said, "One of our ultimate goals in continuing ed is workforce development and supplying the needs of the workforce in the Midlands. So, this was an opportunity to take a population of kids that may not get this opportunity, if it weren't for these partnerships, and then we tried to pave a path—so that they still have to take control of their own destiny, but we wanted to make sure that the avenues were there."
According to Stan Beckley, representing the Building Industry of Central South Carolina, the BOOM program is important because "we're needing to be sure that we're training and preparing students and young people to come into the construction industry in the future." He says, "We've seen a lot of erosion in jobs in the construction industry, so I've been working in that area...for several years trying to connect the dots between construction, education, and the labor force, so that we can prepare people to go to work in the construction industry."
The school districts and business partners are hoping to continue the program and expand into other career fields as well.