The inaugural class of graduates from the Greenwood Edge program received their certificates May 14 at a special ceremony at Piedmont Technical College (PTC) in Greenwood. In all, 19 students received certificates in a number of manufacturing disciplines through the collaborative scholarship program sponsored by the Greenwood Promise and the county’s school districts.
“These students have accomplished a great deal,” said PTC Training Coordinator Trish Buis. “We have a lot of companies where people start out as material handlers and work their way up. There are lots of opportunities with these certifications.”
Greenwood Edge ultimately is designed to help expedite graduates’ movement either directly into the workforce or into technical education focused on manufacturing. In Greenwood, approximately one in four jobs is in manufacturing. Students who successfully complete Greenwood EDGE are guaranteed a job interview with one of the sponsoring companies.
Of the 19 students, 14 received PTC’s Manufacturing Production Technician Certificate, and seven received the Manufacturing Skills Standards Council (MSSC) Certified Production Technician Certificate. Several students earned multiple certifications out of 11 disciplines offered through the program, including MSSC Quality Practices and Measurement, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 10 General Industry, and SC Manufacturing Extension Partnership (SCMEP) Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt.
At the same event, Greenwood Edge welcomed its incoming Class of 2020 with an official signing ceremony. Fourteen students ― five from Emerald High School, four from Greenwood High School, one from Lighthouse Christian School and four from Ware Shoals High School ― signed commitments and were presented Greenwood Edge ball caps and other gifts provided by corporate sponsors Lonza, Fujifilm, Ascend, Monti and Greenwood Mills.
In welcoming remarks, PTC President Ray Brooks commended the newest cohort of signees for taking this first step in their career trajectory.
“You are taking a step to move forward with a career though you don’t know where it’s going to end up. The first step is the hardest,” he said. “I encourage you to continue to dream and work hard.”
Taiese Kidd, human resources manager at Fujifilm, acknowledged that three Greenwood Edge signees are working with Fujifilm, and one just graduated.
“We look for mature, flexible, reliable students who would take this opportunity seriously,” Kidd said, adding that while Fujifilm provides the training, the signees are responsible for bringing drive and determination. “You all have fantastic opportunities in front of you. Embrace them.”
Greenwood County Council Chairman Steve Brown also was on hand to applaud the graduates and new signees.
“We celebrate you as participants in this program,” he said. “Celebrate yourself. Be proud of what you have accomplished at this point. … Greenwood County will be better because of what you are doing today.”
After the induction, two Greenwood Edge graduates ― Seth Alexander of Ware Shoals High School and Kayla Harrison of Greenwood High School ― gave remarks and answered questions about their experiences. Alexander worked with Fujifilm and Harrison with Lonza.
“I was able to see how the manufacturing process worked at multiple plants,” Alexander said. “I will continue to work at Fujifilm and take some more classes at Piedmont Tech.”
Harrison is the only female in the inaugural cohort and plans to continue working at Lonza.
“This program gives me a chance, while still being at a young age, to gain career experience while still in high school,” she said, adding that she also will continue her education.