DILLON, SC (WMBF) - Local leaders and educators discussed the importance of more higher education choices for students.
The conversation was a part of the Educator Summit: Connecting South Carolina Students with Opportunity held by Congressman Tom Rice’s office at the Dillon Wellness Center Monday morning.
“They can go back and tell their students, ‘Look opportunity is here.’ It’s not just what’s here, but what’s coming in the next few years,” Rice said.
The summit began with superintendents, guidance counselors and other educators taking a tour of the Dillon Inland Port.
Following the tour, attendees heard from representatives from all three local technical colleges: Horry Georgetown Tech, Florence Darlington Tech and Northeastern Tech about their programs and training to help prepare students for the workforce.
Officials from South Carolina Ports Authority and Harbor Freight Tools also spoke on the major roles technical colleges play in their companies.
Rice said he decided to hold the event after discovering a disconnect between educators informing students about the benefits of non-traditional education.
He added with more financial help now available for students, it’s important that they know a four-year degree is not the only pathway to being successful.
“You can go to a program that almost guarantees you a job at a good pay for no cost and we need to get every person that we can plugged in to that and take advantage of that so America can be the land of opportunity for them,” Rice said.
Jay Beneventano, a Talent Acquisition Manager with SC Ports Authority, said the port in Charleston is the fastest growing in the U.S. He emphasized education, training and good work ethic are crucial to being to keep up the growth.
“We provide the training in house, but we just want somebody that has the know-how so to speak, I mean the hand-eye coordination and some training there,” Beneventano said.
Representatives from all three technical colleges touched on their high placement rate, programs for high school students, like dual enrollment and financial assistance.
Dr. Gregory McCord, the superintendent of the Marlboro County School District, said he attended the summit to learn more opportunities on making his students more competitive, which will be a main focus moving forward.
“Having to have our students partner for mentorships or internships with industry leaders definitely gives them an advantage,” McCord said. “We have a great relationship with NETC and Dr. Kyle Wagner... looking forward to building on that and having more of our student involved at earlier ages.”