Road-paving Industry Needs Workers
With S.C. roads in desperate need of repair, the state’s asphalt industry is just as desperate for employees to go out and do the work.
The job market is ripe for those seeking employment in the road-rebuilding field, with more than 350 positions available across the state.
Since the passage of the 2017 S.C. road-repair bill, which raised gasoline taxes gradually over six years to fund highway improvements, demand for asphalt workers has skyrocketed. The paving industry anticipates creating more than 1,000 jobs in the state within the next five years.
“The asphalt industry is booming. Asphalt companies are hiring people with and without experience. These are good jobs, with good pay, comprehensive benefit packages, a family atmosphere, and job security that comes from a growth industry,” said Dan Ellzey, executive director of the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce.
In response to the demand, the S.C. Asphalt Association has launched Asphalt Works!, a statewide workforce-development campaign to raise awareness about the opportunities available.
“Strengthening the road network within our state takes integrity and skill, and it is essential to our businesses here in South Carolina,” said Gov. Henry McMaster. “Strong infrastructure is crucial to economic growth, and I am proud to support this innovative workforce development campaign.”
Reid Baker, administrator of Carolina Construction School in Lancaster, said it’s not just the asphalt industry that is crying out for workers.
According to Baker, the construction industry in general needs workers, and skilled employees are hard to find.
“There is a huge shortage,” Baker said Tuesday, noting that hardly a week goes by when he doesn’t receive a phone call from a construction company asking him to send students their way.
Carolina Construction School, owned by Lancaster-based LCI-Lineberger Construction, began offering classes in October 2016, after the company had been struggling to find qualified employees.
The school offers heavy equipment operation training, CDL (commercial driver’s license) training and Caterpillar paver-operating training.
The training in heavy-equipment operation is available in two tracks – six weeks or eight weeks – and offers students the opportunity to achieve certification from the National Center for Construction Education and Research. NCCER certification is globally recognized and “highly valued in the construction industry,” Baker said.
The eight-week course includes additional certifications, including the SCDOT traffic control flagger certification, first aid, and construction math and drawing.
The CDL course includes a minimum of 148 hours of instruction and driving experience, and is offered every five to eight weeks.
“Safety is the number one emphasis and priority in that training,” Baker said.
Classes also feature a lot of one-on-one training for students. “I think that’s one of our strengths as a school,” Baker said.
The Caterpillar paver-operating training is a four-and-a-half-day hands-on course. While paver training was previously offered solely to LCI employees, the school will begin opening classes to the public this year.
The course teaches the fundamentals of asphalt paving, before moving on to more advanced paving techniques.
For more information about courses, visit www.carolinaconstructionschool.com. For details about Asphalt Works! or to find out about job opportunities, visit www.asphaltworkssc.org.
Follow Emily Pollok on Twitter @PollokEmily or contact her at (803)283-1155.