Hundreds of New Students Attend OCtech’s Fall Assembly
It was standing-room only in Roquemore Auditorium as Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College welcomed new students during its Fall Assembly on Aug. 16.
After participating in small group meetings with program coordinators and faculty, students gathered in the auditorium to hear from keynote speaker Gregg Robinson, executive director of the Orangeburg County Development Commission, and school officials.
Robinson talked about the growth of advanced manufacturing in South Carolina and how the state is working to meet the workforce needs of existing and future employers.
“You guys have an exciting future in front of you, but you have to chart a path to success,” he said. “Employers want people who can add value to a company, who have the skills and can immediately go into the workforce.”
“With Volvo (in Berkeley County), we’re going to have an opportunity at first-tier jobs, if we have the ability to deliver the workforce,” Robinson said. “We have to start with our technical colleges and our four-year colleges and our schools, training students from the sixth grade forward. We have to get kids engaged early and interested in manufacturing.
“It is an opportunity that will be in front of you whether you take advantage of it or not.”
He encouraged students to take the WorkKeys job skills assessment test if they have not already done so.
“What this test does is prove that we have the ability to deliver the workforce to manufacturers with international companies,” Robinson said. “If we can show them that we have a good, qualified workforce and available people, then that makes us far more attractive than other communities. We have to prove the workforce is there.”
Ample career opportunities won’t just exist in advanced manufacturing – Robinson said there will be opportunities across disciplines in the wake of a “mass exodus” of baby boomers leaving their jobs in the coming years.
“That is definitely going to impact your career path moving forward,” he said. “There is an opportunity in healthcare unlike any other time in the history of our country. If you can get into healthcare now, you will see a strong growth potential because of an aging population.”
“Logistics, transportation, engineering technology, nursing – these disciplines are taught extremely well at OCtech,” Robinson continued. “These certifications can immediately lend themselves to full employment and are right here in front of you. You have to determine what you’re good at and how to fine tune those skills in order to add the most value to the industry or company you go to.”
While learning technical skills for a career is important to become workforce ready, employees must also possess soft skills that will help them be successful on the job. That’s an area OCtech is focusing on beginning this year with the implementation of its Quality Enhancement Plan, “Learn It! Live It! Workforce Readiness.” The goal is by the time they graduate, students will be able to effectively communicate verbally and non-verbally in the workplace, use technology to solve problems on the job, and demonstrate punctuality, responsibility and teamwork.
“When you think about your progression at this institution, think about where you want to end up. You need a long-term plan for where you ultimately want to be,” President Dr. Walt Tobin said. “More than nine out of 10 people who walk out of this institution walk out with a job. A lot of our students are offered employment before they even walk across the stage. That’s a testament, I think, to the quality of the programs that we offer.”
In addition to going straight into the workforce, Tobin cited the transfer opportunities that are available to students who begin their college career at OCtech. He encouraged students to build relationships with their instructors and take advantage of the many student support services available on campus.
Andrea Gilyard said she first started OCtech in 2009, but quit because she had a lot going on in her life at the time.
“I’m back because I’m more focused than ever and I want a better life,” the medical assisting student said. “OCtech is a good college. I have seen a lot of good things about it. I have no doubt in my mind that I will have a good career when I graduate.”
Anna Markowitz is enrolled in the emergency medical technician certificate program and hopes to one day become a paramedic.
“I chose OCtech because it’s local,” she said. “It’s the perfect fit for me.”
Fall classes start Monday, Aug. 22. For more information or to register, call 803-535-1234 or visit www.octech.edu.