DARLINGTON, S.C. (WMBF) - Some students in the Darlington County School District had the chance to operate equipment like they were on a job site without ever leaving school grounds.
The Darlington County Institute of Technology gives students from across the district a chance to get hands-on vocational training as a part of their curriculum.
Especially during the pandemic, Institute Director Robbie Smith wanted to ensure students would have access to as many hands-on experiences as possible.
With the help of the Pee Dee Homebuilders Association, they brought the ‘Be Pro Be Proud SC’ vocational training truck to Darlington.
“Simulators like that, we don’t have simulators like that in here but granted our students are welding and working on CNC machines, but for other students to get their hands on these simulators is amazing,” said Smith.
The truck has hands-on simulators for heavy equipment operation, driving and welding among other things.
Smith said there are multiple pathways to have successful careers, and across the state and country people are looking for qualified tradesmen.
Student Ambassador Chapman Parker has dreams of becoming a welder and believes the Be Pro Be Proud simulators give them great insight into future career opportunities.
“We can drive a backhoe, a forklift, a big semi-truck, things you don’t normally get to do and it has a lot of different things guys can see and open up different options for a career path,” said Parker.
Jon Holder works as an operations specialist on the Be Pro Be Proud truck and also works for SPEVCO the company that designs the trucks. Holder said many trade workers are retiring and there are not enough qualified workers to take their place.
So the simulators provide students a chance to see and learn about a variety of trades they didn’t even know were available.
“Some of these kids don’t even know these trade professions are even out there and what great professions they are and they’re good-paying jobs and necessary to South Carolina. They’re what makes the world go round,” said Holder.