The University of South Carolina Beaufort had a productive year. And, although you may not realize it, that meant a fruitful year for you too.
In 2018, USCB opened an Honors College and a new housing complex in Beaufort as well as a new Hospitality Management campus on Hilton Head Island, expanding educational opportunities — and, therefore, lifetime earnings potential — for students in the Lowcountry and across the state.
More than 80 percent of USCB students are South Carolinians, and more than 80 percent of USCB graduates remain here, fueling our economy by filling open positions, launching businesses, buying homes, raising families, and paying taxes.
Let’s face facts. Our economic development depends on an ample pipeline of highly-skilled workers. Seventy-five percent of jobs created over the next decade will require education beyond high school.
But, even now, in South Carolina, less than 60 percent of potential workers actually hold jobs, which is not about people but about our failure to ensure that people have the skills they need to compete in a high-tech marketplace. In fact, South Carolina will need an additional 70,000 university-educated employees by 2030 to sustain its economy.
Our desire for a thriving economy must be matched by our commitment to higher education.
Before USCB became a four-year baccalaureate institution in 2004, students in Beaufort County had to travel to Charleston, Orangeburg, Columbia, or further for a traditional university education within the state. Since 2005, USCB has been one of the 10 fastest-growing public universities in the country. And that growth has translated into meaningful advances. In Beaufort County alone, 1,066 jobs and $122.4 million in annual economic output are attributable to USCB.
USCB’s growth underscores its increasing role as a regional problem solver — meaning, in this case, its success with attracting and retaining not only traditional students but also under-represented demographics, including women, working adults, people of color, veterans, and first-generation university students. All of whom are critical to meeting our workforce needs.
USCB is a vital resource for Beaufort County and all of South Carolina. In this New Year, as we consider institutions making a substantial difference and deserving our support, let’s take a look at a South Carolina gem, USCB.
State Rep. Shannon S. Erickson, R-Beaufort, serves on House Ways & Means Committee as Transportation and Regulations Subcommittee chairman.