HGTC offers new program following recent career boom

Enrollment is going on for Machine Tool Technology and classes are filling up fast. | Source: WMBF News
Enrollment is going on for Machine Tool Technology and classes are filling up fast. | Source: WMBF News

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - Horry-Georgetown Technical College has spent nearly $1.3 million to reinstate its machine technology program because the school says the manufacturing industry is booming.

On Monday, dozens of manual machines were being unloaded from a flatbed and starting Fall semester, students will get hands-on training to operate them.

If you don't know much about the machine tool and welding industry, you should know that most likely, every item you use was created on a machine, like the ones being unloaded Monday.

"There are very few consumer items that weren't made on these types of machines, whether it's jewelry, textiles, transportation, mold making, tool and dime making, job shop, parts repair, or service," said Brandon Haseldon, the department chair for the Machine and Welding Technology program.

Haseldon will also be one of the instructors this fall. He will help prepare students for a career field that is rapidly growing.

"The U.S. Department of Labor completed a study and said by 2024, an approximate 800,000 job shortages will be in each of these fields," Haseldon said.

The program was designed in response to regional employers who have expressed a demand for skilled employees. HGTC has already formed relationships with area business like EnviroSep in Georgetown County, Santee Cooper in Horry County and PTR Industries in Aynor.

PTR Industries, who recently relocated to Horry County from Connecticut, recently laid off several employees and cut management salary by 10 percent, after a slump in the gun sales industry. But HGTC says the lay-offs won't affect their program and the job prospects for students.

"No," said Haseldon of the industry, "They are just one piece of the pie."

Students who graduate from the program can get a certificate or an Associate's Degree in Machine Tool Technology and can go on to make a pretty decent living.

"As an entry level machinist, you're going to see jobs paying 15 to 16 dollars per hour, and as a C&C programmer or an operator you going to see jobs commanding $60,000 or plus," he said.

Enrollment is going on right now and Haseldon says classes are filling up fast.

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