Marano Fellows Class of 2009

Name: Laura Bogardus Harmon

United Way of Greenville County

Location: Greenville, South Carolina
Primary Industry Sector: Advanced Manufacturing
Type of Organization: Community Based Organization

“I enjoy viewing the workforce community as a system, and learning how each organization can interact and align to achieve greater results than when they work in silos – when they are somewhat aware of each other, but not working collaboratively. I am excited to lead system-wide improvements that help workers and employers create better connections and greater opportunity.”

Organizational Mission: The Greenville Collaborative for Workforce Development, a partnership of public and private organizations dedicated to funding and support of sector-based workforce initiatives, seeks to strengthen the financial stability of our region by bridging the skills gap between Greenville’s low-income, under-skilled workforce and valued employers in industries critical to South Carolina’s economic health.

Interest in Sector Work: UWGC became interested in sector work after learning about the National Fund for Workforce Solutions’ model. After much research, we formed a Steering Committee to guide the creation of the Greenville Collaborative for Workforce Development (GCWD). GCWD supports a workforce partnership focused on advanced manufacturing, which was selected after conducting a detailed labor market analysis. The hope is to open pathways to training completion and job retention for low-income, under-skilled workers who have the capability and willingness to succeed, but require the workforce partnership’s support to bridge the skills gap. GCWD provides employers with skilled workers that fit their employment needs, leading to growth opportunities for both employers and workers. We target workers with a GED and corresponding WorkKeys scores. We source workers from other CBOs that assist with math/reading upgrading. Our jobseekers face financial hardships, are unemployed or underemployed, and lack a solid work history. Many have family-related challenges. Some experience barriers in overcoming past minor criminal charges. Many are unaccustomed to employers’ expectations. The GCWD program helps jobseekers deal effectively with these barriers, while teaching and reinforcing the technical and applied (soft) skills employers require to be competitive in their industry.