Greenville Technical College has hired a director for its Center for Manufacturing Innovation (CMI). David Clayton, formerly director of the Research Division for the South Carolina Department of Commerce, assumed leadership of the CMI on November 2.
As the college works toward a fall 2016 opening for the CMI, Clayton is responsible for the strategic direction of the CMI, working with industry to identify and address workforce needs in the community, and collaborating with Clemson University on research and continuing education programs.
The Center for Manufacturing Innovation is intended to increase the population of world-class, next-generation advanced manufacturing technicians and engineers in order to close the skills gap that is critical to the growth of many Upstate employers. Manufacturing is the economic powerhouse of the regional economy, contributing more than $7 billion to the Greenville metro Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2014. Average annual earnings per employee in manufacturing are much higher than the overall regional average. Yet despite the bright career opportunities in manufacturing, employers struggle to find people with the right skills to fill job openings.
This challenge is compounded by the fact that many young people do not realize manufacturing can be an exciting and lucrative career choice. These young people may be relying on their parents for guidance, and with only 35% of parents reporting that they would encourage children to go into manufacturing, many students will likely miss out on a golden opportunity.
“In my work at the Department of Commerce, I collaborated with technical colleges and other partners on workforce development strategies and programs. With that background, transitioning to this national showcase for workforce development is an opportunity I could not pass up,” Clayton said. “I am excited to be in on the ground floor of what is sure to be an internationally recognized learning environment that integrates research and education to meet industry needs.”
With the involvement of educational partners including Greenville County Schools and Clemson University as well as advanced manufacturing partners such as Bosch Rexroth, League Manufacturing, and GE, the CMI will be a place where all players come together to advance this area’s largest economic sector.
With services including prototyping, testing, and research, the objective is to drive innovation. By supporting local advanced manufacturers and fostering the growth of new businesses through incubator/accelerator space and services, the CMI will increase the strength of the Upstate and state as a magnet for advanced manufacturing.