More Than 2,000 High School Seniors in Area Receiving “Your Next Step” Employer Directory

High school seniors in the Upper Savannah Workforce Area can learn career planning tips and who might hire them as they take the “next step” after graduation.

Upper Savannah COG workforce development staff has updated its “Your Next Step After Graduation” directory of employers who hire recent high school graduates. Staff are distributing them to the more than 2,000 graduating seniors at public high schools in the Workforce Area.

The directory was created in 2021 and the latest now includes a web version with live links.

The Area includes Abbeville (108 seniors), Calhoun Falls (21), Dixie (87), Strom Thurmond (166), Emerald (170), Greenwood (324), Ninety Six (120), Ware Shoals (58), Laurens (300), Clinton (176), McCormick (36), Mid-Carolina (180), Newberry (161), Whitmire (40) and Saluda (143) high schools. There are 2,090 Area graduates in the Class of 2023.

The directory includes an alphabetical listing of nearly 90 companies in the Area which responded to a survey indicating they hire current high school students and recent graduates.

Also included are website addresses and whether employers offer flexible hours, tuition reimbursement, etc. Almost half offer tuition reimbursement and most work around school schedules.

This class is graduating at a time of low unemployment.

“Employers are struggling to fill positions. At the same time, we know each year more than 2,000 high school students are graduating,” USCOG Workforce Development Director Ann Skinner said.

“Our goal in publishing this directory is to connect the emerging workforce with local jobs. That may mean helping them find a part-time job while they are in school. For some it may mean starting a full-time job.”

Skinner said there are choices to be made and they differ with each individual.

“There are opportunities to work AND go to school. I think a lot of people believe you have to choose. ‘I will go to work or I will go to college.’ But you can do both,” she said.

“If we encourage more of our local graduates to work and go to school at the same time, we keep them in the area, we help them develop skills, and we can put them on a path to graduate (college) without debt.”

Skinner believes there are many benefits to working while going to college.

“Employers are looking for three things,” she said. “They are looking for credentials like your education, they are looking for a portfolio of things that you have done, and they are looking at your contacts because they want to know ‘can you work with other people, do you have references?’

“If you go to work, you are enhancing your credentials. You are building a portfolio of things you have done. So when you are being interviewed, you can say for example, ‘in my summer construction job, I learned how to measure, I learned how to read blueprints…’ When you have to put down three references, it’s good to say, ‘this is a person who has seen me work.’”

The directory provides information about training opportunities and assistance available for several health care programs to automotive technology, mechatronics, HVAC and welding, and several others.

The directory also includes encouraging tidbits for seniors making that next step, including a page devoted to “10 Steps of a Job Search.” The directory also highlights resume and cover letter development while sharing several interviewing tips.