Site Logotype

Hair Salon inRidgeville, SC

Ask us Anything

Platform Lifts-phone-nuber 843-695-8057 Platform Lifts-phone-nuberBook Appointment

Find the Beauty in You at Chroma Hair Studio & Spa

Choosing the right hair salon in Ridgeville, SC, is a little bit like finding the perfect outfit. The materials feel great on your skin, the fabric is flattering to your body type, and when you try it on, you just know - this is the outfit that you have been looking for.

With thousands of hair salons and stylists in South Carolina, choosing the right one can be difficult. You want a salon that is clean, comfortable, and chic. But, more importantly, you need a stylist that "gets" you. Someone who takes the time to understand your preferences, your style, and your personality. You need a stylist who listens, is honest, and has the technical skills to turn your vision into a reality.

An excellent stylist epitomizes all those traits and knows how to adapt to changing beauty trends. They aren't afraid to take on a challenge.

chroma service
Service Areas

Welcome to Chroma Hair Studio & Spa

Where the most talented hairstylists in Ridgeville help bring out the beauty in each of our clients. We strive to provide each of our customers with the highest levels of customer service in the beauty industry. At Chroma, we offer a relaxing environment, skillful professionals, and a variety of products with environmentally safe and good-for-you ingredients.

Our goal is to make your salon experience special, from the moment you walk in to the second you leave. With a variety of professional hair and beauty services to choose from, we're sure you will rediscover the "beauty of you" every time you visit our salon.

Here are just a few of our most popular hair and beauty services in Ridgeville:

The key to a great haircut and salon experience is to understand the services we offer, so you can choose the best selection for your needs. What do our salon services entail? Keep reading below to find out.

Hair Studio Ridgeville, SC

Professional Hair Color in Ridgeville, SC

Let's be honest: DIY hair kits can be tricky to get right. They can be complicated to apply and usually have hard-to-understand instructions. Half the time, the color you're left with looks nothing like it does on the front of the box. In a perfect world, you should be able to pop into Target, pick a boxed hair color, apply it at home, and emerge out of your bathroom with a new, beautiful hair color. For most people, this never happens.

That's why people who want flawless color, professional application, and ease of convenience get their highlights at Chroma Hair Studio & Spa.

Whether you are changing your hair color completely or just want a few highlights to switch things up, we are here to create the look and style that you've been dreaming about. At Chroma Hair Studio & Spa, we specialize in the latest hair coloring trends using cutting-edge technology. That way, our clients get the freshest looks, coolest colors, and longest-lasting highlights in town. When you get your highlights done at our hair salon in Ridgeville, we want you to leave excited and ready to share your new hair all over social.

Don't spend hours in the store trying to find the color you think will look great on you. Our team of professional stylists will consult with you about your vision and craft a custom highlight plan that fits you're your unique style. There's a reason why so many customers trust us with their highlights - we genuinely care about your hair and how it looks.

Our professional hair coloring services in Ridgeville are a combination of art and science. The artistic results only last as long as the hair coloring products used, and we use the best. Our hairstylists and colorists are committed to helping you look and feel fabulous, whether you're planning a special occasion or just want to impress that special someone.

 Women's Hair Studio Ridgeville, SC

Get the Look You Crave with Personalized Hair Treatments

Ever taken a chance on a new look or hair color, only to end up embarrassed and unsatisfied with the results? You're not alone - we get calls every week from people just like you who need hair treatment Ridgeville. Sadly, sometimes even the professionals get a color procedure wrong.

Other times, your hair has suffered from years of blow-drying and straightening, and it looks dry, brittle, and unattractive. You know you need a deep conditioning treatment, and you need it ASAP.

At Chroma Hair Studio & Spa, our technicians have treated all sorts of hair problems - from unprofessional coloring with multiple bands of different colors and tones to dehydrated hair and more. Sometimes, our client's entire hairstyle needs to be corrected. To do this, we stock multiple types of color and toners to revitalize hair and give it the color you've been dreaming of. Our team always puts a priority on the health and integrity of your hair, whether it's your first visit or your fortieth.

Appointment Request
 Women's Haircut Ridgeville, SC

Voluptuous Eyelash Extensions in
Ridgeville, SC

Do you ever wake up in the morning and wish that you had fuller, longer eyelashes? You're not alone - thousands of people crave darker, thicker lashes. They settle for what they have, not knowing that a revolutionary lash treatment is waiting for them at Chroma Hair Studio & Spa.

Eyelash extensions have revolutionized fashion culture, saving women untold amounts time and effort in front of the makeup mirror. The great news is that lash extensions aren't just reserved for Hollywood celebrities anymore. Anybody can have the long, fluttery lashes they've been craving, with a trip to our salon.

Eyelash extensions are a fabulous way to enhance your look on a long-term basis and provide you with a small change that makes a huge impact. From the moment you wake up to the time you go to bed, your lashes remain long, sexy, and sultry.

Our eyelash extension specialist works with your existing lashes to apply individual extensions to enhance the natural beauty of your eyes. Using a meticulous application process, we maintain the integrity of your natural lashes so they remain healthy and undamaged.

Whether you're looking for a wispy, effortless look or want your lashes to have mega volume, our lash extension technicians are here to cater to your needs.

Here are just a few reasons why women love our eyelash extension services in Ridgeville:

  • 24/7 Beauty
  • No Damage to Your Natural Lashes
  • No More Mascara or Eye Makeup
  • No Clumps
  • Long, Lovely Lashes That Will Make Your Friends Jealous!

If you're looking for a cost-conscious way to stand out from the crowd, contact our office today. We'd be happy to tell you more about our eyelash extension process and which lashes work best for your needs.

Smooth Out Hair and Add Flair with a Brazilian Blowout

The Brazilian blowout: you've heard about the new craze, you've seen the stunning results, but haven't had a chance to sit down and receive the treatment yourself. Luckily, Chroma Hair Studio & Spa now offers this sought-after style right here in Ridgeville, from certified Brazilian blowout stylists.

If you suffer from dull, frizzy hair that lacks life and shine, the Brazilian blowout is one of the best ways to get smooth, frizz-free hair. By using cutting-edge bonding technology, this customizable treatment doesn't damage your hair at all. Actually, it improves your hair's health by adding a protective layer of protein that smooths your hair for weeks on end.

This ultra-popular choice offers you a laundry list of benefits, like:

  • Protection Against Seasonal Damage
  • Locks in Color
  • Cuts Down on Styling Time
  • Protects Against Heat
  • Seamless Extension Blending
  • Great for All Hair Types

To get the best of both worlds, be sure to schedule your Brazilian blowout and custom hair color treatment in the same appointment. Call us today to learn more about our Brazilian blowouts and to schedule your appointment today.

 Hair Salon Ridgeville, SC

Custom Haircuts in Ridgeville Crafted for You

There are many ways that you can reinvent yourself this season, but if you're ready to make a lasting impression, nothing beats a new hairstyle. While there is nothing wrong with sporting top knots, ponytails, or straight hair, a styled cut from Chroma Hair Studio & Spa will drastically improve your hair game.

Getting a new haircut isn't just fun - it makes you feel good, too, especially when you get a lot of positive compliments.

 Hair Stylist Ridgeville, SC

Our experienced stylists are tapped into today's hottest trends, so if you want to try something new, we're here to help. If you want to play it more traditional, our stylists have a solid foundation of time-tested techniques, to give your existing cut the edge it needs to impress. And sometimes, you need something simple and low-maintenance that cuts down on styling time and primping.

Not sure what kind of a cut you need? We're happy to give you our educated opinion and are happy to provide examples of what we think works. Whatever style you've got your eye on, we can make it a reality!

Here are just a few of the most popular haircut trends in South Carolina:

Natural Textured

Natural Textured

In a time when extravagant dyes and unique hair extensions are all the rage, the natural look will always be trending. This haircut is a great way to rediscover yourself and let your beauty shine organically without overdoing it.

The Shag

The Shag

This medium-length haircut is a classic throwback to the 79s, with a layered look, messy bangs, and lots of attitude. If you like to get ahead of trends before your friends, bring back the shag and rock this retro style with pride.

Curly Bangs

Curly Bangs

This cut will look great during the summer and will give you an innocent look that will get plenty of attention. Great for a short-term haircut or even something special for a big party or Gen-X event.

Long Length

Long Length

Go against the status quo and let your hair down this season. Pixie cuts and shags are all the rage, but rocking a Rapunzel-like haircut will set you apart from the crowd. If you're looking for a more natural, classic look, this could be your haircut.

Find Your French Flair with Balayage

If you're looking to switch up your hair color but can't decide between Balayage or Ombre because, well, you don't know the difference - don't worry. You're not alone!

Balayage is a French technique for highlighting the hair in which the dye is painted to create a natural-looking effect. The goal is to create soft, subtle highlights that make your hair look like it's been kissed by the sun.

While Balayage is the technique of painting the hair, Ombre focuses on the style of the hair. It is the transition from a lighter shade to a darker shade. Typically, Ombres work best for brunettes, but the style can is suitable for blondes too. To achieve the effect of an Ombre, there must be a smooth transition between colors. While the Ombre is a beautiful look, you'll need to work with a professional to get the best results.

Luckily, we offer both Ombre and Balayage in Ridgeville, SC! Short on time? Busy schedule? Only available on weekends? Chroma Hair Studio & Spa offers flexible appointment scheduling to accommodate even the busiest clients. You deserve a fresh new style, and we're here to help when the time is right for you.

The Top Hair Salon in Ridgeville, SC

If you're looking for a hair salon that offers high-end styling without expensive pricing, you're in the right place. Our goal is to exceed your expectations and leave you feeling beautiful, whether you need a touch-up or a total makeover. We offer a relaxing salon atmosphere, skillful stylists, and only the best in professional brands. When it's time for your next haircut, highlight session, or eyelash extension, look no further than Chroma Hair Studio & Spa.

Appointment Request

Latest News in Ridgeville, SC

SC automaker Volvo hopes to make in-car sneezing a thing of the past

In areas like the Southeast region of the United States, where pollen season covers vehicles with a thick yellow dust each spring, Volvo Cars is hoping a new technology will give drivers a little comfort from sneezing and watery eyes — at least while they’re inside their cars.The automaker, which builds S60 sedans at a $1.2 billion manufacturing site in Ridgeville, is equipping new vehicles with what it calls “cutting-edge air purification” that can remove up to 99.9 percent of grass, tree and ...

In areas like the Southeast region of the United States, where pollen season covers vehicles with a thick yellow dust each spring, Volvo Cars is hoping a new technology will give drivers a little comfort from sneezing and watery eyes — at least while they’re inside their cars.

The automaker, which builds S60 sedans at a $1.2 billion manufacturing site in Ridgeville, is equipping new vehicles with what it calls “cutting-edge air purification” that can remove up to 99.9 percent of grass, tree and weed pollen allergens from incoming air.

“By helping our customers improve the air quality inside their Volvo car, we will help reduce the adverse health effects associated with air pollution, allergens and fine particulates,” said Dr. Maria Bernander, occupant health effects expert at Volvo Cars. “In addition to personal health benefits, studies have shown cleaner air can also help boost concentration, which can help you stay more focused during the drive.”

A display in the vehicle’s center console will provide drivers with live data showing real-time outdoor pollen and air quality levels, alerting them to when use of an in-car air purification system might be warranted. Sensors also record the amount of particulate matter inside the vehicle compared to the outdoor air.

Volvo said its Advanced Air Cleaner can also remove more than 97 percent of airborne viruses that try to enter a vehicle’s cabin and up to 95 percent of existing viral levels already inside the vehicle.

Anders Löfvendahl, Volvo’s cabin air quality technical expert, said the technology that’s unique to the carmaker’s vehicles “can increase our competitive advantage by offering a more comfortable and healthier driving experience.”

The technology is currently available on Volvo’s 60- and 90-model vehicles. The Swedish automaker plans to expand production at its South Carolina plant off Interstate 26 by adding the next-generation successor to the XC90 SUV by the end of this year. The Berkeley County site also will build the Polestar 3 sedan for its high-performance sister brand.

The S60 Recharge, which is also made at the Lowcountry factory, recently was named best luxury plug-in hybrid vehicle by U.S. News and World Report, taking top honors among 82 vehicles in the running.

Volvo announced this month that all of its 2023 models will consist of mild hybrid, hybrid or electric vehicles as the automaker moves toward its goal of producing all battery-powered cars by 2030. Mild hybrid vehicles are powered by internal combustion engines but have an electric motor to give the engine a boost during acceleration.

In addition, the new S60 will feature a redesigned front grille and updated rear bumper inserts. The 2023 models are in production and expected to be available this summer.

Commerce confabs

Scribble, the S.C. Commerce Department’s ongoing series of internet-based podcasts, blog posts and videos that focus on innovations among South Carolina manufacturers and business leaders, is entering its fourth year with a new group of participants. The latest lineup includes leaders from electric vehicle companies to innovative startups who discuss ideas that have helped transform their businesses.

This year’s participants include: Andrew Lee with biotech firm IMCS in Irmo; Bob Brown with robotic welding company Integrated Systems Inc. in Darlington; Vernita Brown with Natalist, a Charleston-based company that makes pregnancy tests and prenatal vitamins; Mike Finnern of electric bus firm Proterra; Jules Welson and Stace Pierce of beach and camping gear business OME Gear in Charleston; Jeff DiMaio of Tetramer, an advanced materials research group in Clemson; University of South Carolina physics professor Thomas Crawford; and James Townsend of Charleston’s Dopple XR Inc., which provides 3-D and augmented reality services for e-commerce firms.

“Industries across the board are experiencing significant advances in innovation and change, and it’s critical that our state remains on the cutting edge of these technologies and thought processes,” Harry Lightsey III, the state’s commerce secretary, said of the series.

This year’s season premiers in August and runs through April 2023. In addition, there are online features from 30 past participants representing the startup, academic and corporate sectors. The series website is scribblesc.com.

Walmart’s new Ridgeville distribution center brings over 1,000 jobs

RIDGEVILLE, S.C. (WCSC) - Walmart’s $220 million-dollar international distribution center in Ridgeville is now open for business.Officials from Dorchester County and Gov. Henry McMaster spoke at the grand opening on Friday.“This is just one more sign of our great prosperity that’s going to keep on going,” McMaster says. “This is one of the three largest such distribution centers in the world.”So far, Walmart has hired over 900 associates and they are looking to hire a total of 1,300 fu...

RIDGEVILLE, S.C. (WCSC) - Walmart’s $220 million-dollar international distribution center in Ridgeville is now open for business.

Officials from Dorchester County and Gov. Henry McMaster spoke at the grand opening on Friday.

“This is just one more sign of our great prosperity that’s going to keep on going,” McMaster says. “This is one of the three largest such distribution centers in the world.”

So far, Walmart has hired over 900 associates and they are looking to hire a total of 1,300 full-time employees. The Walmart distribution center is expected to increase the Port of Charleston’s volume by 5 percent, bringing them more jobs as well.

Jeffrey Holzbauer, General Manager of Imports with Walmart says this center will have a huge impact on Dorchester County. Not only for the number of jobs they are bringing but the pay rate as well.

Along with the distribution center, there are 122 retail stores in the state. In total, Walmart employs over 30,000 associates in South Carolina.

This will be the 5th distribution facility in the state, and its impact will reach farther than South Carolina. The center will supply 850 Walmart and Sam’s Club stores across the southeast.

Holzbauer says over the past few years keeping shelves in stores stocked has been an issue. The distribution center’s main purpose is to limit situations like that happening by making sure the right stores have the right products at the right time.

“Trailers come in from the port, folks then unload them,” Holzbauer says. “They go to a storage rack until a store is running low on inventory. Then we send associates to pick that product, take it to the ship dock, and put it in containers that’s destined for a regional distribution center.”

The town of Ridgeville was chosen for the distribution center for a few reasons. It’s strategically located relatively close to the port of Charleston. Holzbauer says there were a lot of qualified associates in the area, and there’s access to major transportation channels to get their products to their stores as fast as possible.

South Carolina Ports Authority President and CEO Jim Newsome says this building could be the tip of the iceberg for a county focused on business.

“We own this whole industrial campus, except we granted this to Walmart, so we’re working on other projects out here,” Newsome says. “I think there’s a number of distribution projects that can come here because of the location between I-26 and I-95.”

Copyright 2022 WCSC. All rights reserved.

Walmart Opens South Carolina Import Distribution Center

A 3 million-square-foot facility – equivalent in size to 52 football fields – is Walmart’s first import distribution center in the state of South Carolina to leverage the Port of Charleston.Walmart has opened a $220 million import distribution center in Ridgeville, S.C. The April 22 grand-opening event featured remarks from South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster and Mike Gray, Walmart’s SVP supply chain of operations, along with a congratulatory video from John Furner, president and CEO of Walmart, and ended with a...

A 3 million-square-foot facility – equivalent in size to 52 football fields – is Walmart’s first import distribution center in the state of South Carolina to leverage the Port of Charleston.

Walmart has opened a $220 million import distribution center in Ridgeville, S.C. The April 22 grand-opening event featured remarks from South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster and Mike Gray, Walmart’s SVP supply chain of operations, along with a congratulatory video from John Furner, president and CEO of Walmart, and ended with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“Our team of more than 980 associates from Dorchester County and the surrounding communities are excited to officially open the doors to our new import distribution center,” said Jeff Holzbauer, general manager of the new facility, at the event. “South Carolina is home to some of the country’s most convenient and efficient modes of transportation, including the Port of Charleston and Interstates 26 and 95. Being a member of this community means having the advantage of the region’s existing infrastructure as well as a pool of experienced associates familiar with it. Cutting this ribbon today signifies our commitment to that community.”

“Walmart has been a long-time partner of South Carolina, and as years have passed, they have continued to double down on their commitment to our people and reinvest in our state,” noted McMaster. “Walmart hasn’t only created thousands of jobs in our state – it has become an integral part of the communities in which it operates. Today’s celebration is the result of our state working hard to be the ideal place to do business and a company recognizing the benefit of having our incredibly skilled workforce and premier ports system in its backyard.”

Dorchester County was chosen as the location for the facility because of South Carolina’s business-friendly environment and the county’s proximity to the nearby deep-water Port of Charleston. The new import distribution center will store and sort imported goods that arrive through Charleston – the country’s eighth-largest port – for delivery to 850 regional Walmart and Sam’s Club locations across the Southeast. Once fully up and running, the facility is expected to boost local port volumes by about 5%.

“Walmart is the recognized leader in supply chain innovation and performance,” observed SC Ports CEO Jim Newsome. “Having this world-class company choose our market for their seventh import distribution center is the ultimate vote of confidence in SC Ports and in South Carolina, further solidifying SC Ports as a leader in retail distribution. The strategic investments we have made in port infrastructure enable SC Ports to support global retailers’ supply chains. We are thrilled to partner with Walmart to further their growth and impact for years to come.”

The company also reportedly operates import distribution centers in Alabama, Georgia, Texas and Virginia, among other locations.

“We know our customers count on us for a broad assortment, and this new import distribution center will give us expanded access to seaports, in turn allowing us to deliver a wide selection of merchandise from around the globe,” said Mike Gray, SVP supply chain operations at Walmart. “We also strive to be a store of the community and are proud of how we’ve been able to leverage our investments in supply chain to create economic opportunity and jobs for the Dorchester County area.”

To bolster its supply chain network, the company is building and upgrading distribution and fulfillment centers in various U.S. and Canadian locations.

During the grand-opening event, Holzbauer revealed that the new facility is well on its way to exceeding its initial hiring goal of 1,000. Working with the Department of Commerce, Walmart expects to soon employ more than 1,300 local full-time associates at the facility. The company celebrated its commitment to the community with a contribution of $10,000 to Going Places, an area nonprofit organization that gives bicycles to kids in need.

Located at 1030 Timothy Creek Road, the 3 million-square-foot facility – equivalent in size to 52 football fields – is Walmart’s first import distribution center in the state of South Carolina to leverage the port.

Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart operates approximately 10,500 stores under 46 banners in 24 countries, and e-commerce websites, employing 2.2 million-plus associates worldwide. Walmart U.S. is No. 1 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. The company operates 122 retail units and employs more than 35,000 associates in South Carolina.

Auto sector changed SC’s economic landscape 30 years ago

When Harry Lightsey took the stage at the S.C. Automotive Summit in early March, the South Carolina Secretary of Commerce understood the room.Before being named the top economic developer for South Carolina, Lightsey worked for years in the automotive sector, directing General Motors Corp.’s federal affairs operations in Washington...

When Harry Lightsey took the stage at the S.C. Automotive Summit in early March, the South Carolina Secretary of Commerce understood the room.

Before being named the top economic developer for South Carolina, Lightsey worked for years in the automotive sector, directing General Motors Corp.’s federal affairs operations in Washington. He also served as the leader for the company’s emerging technologies division, which included OnStar, a satellite-powered network that connects GM vehicles across the globe to services.

“We are truly an auto state,” Lightsey said.

The state’s auto sector represents $27 billion in investment since the first BMW rolled off the assembly line in Spartanburg County in 1994. Now, more than 72,000 South Carolinians are employed in connection with the automotive industry.

“Today in the South and Southeast, we are far and away probably the leading sector of this region of the United States in terms of automobile production,” Lightsey said.

The S.C. Department of Commerce’s 2021 International Trade Report (.pdf), released in February, reported that the state has 36.6% of the country’s market share of exported tires and 19.4% of its market share of exported passenger vehicles.

While the state’s total exports dropped 2% from 2020 to 2021 to $30.3 billion, the state still led the nation in exports of tires and completed passenger motor vehicles, a statistic Lightsey said he was very proud of.

In the Upstate, BMW produces 1,500 vehicles a day and has invested more than $11.9 billion in its South Carolina operations. At Volvo Cars’ Ridgeville plant, Plant Manager David Stenström said the company is working toward a production goal of 150,000 cars a year. In Ladson, Mercedes-Benz Vans’ operations assembles Sprinter Vans for the U.S. and Canadian market and reassembles Mercedes-Benz Metris vans. The company has invested more than $500 million in the Ladson Sprinter plant and assembled more than 260,000 Sprinter and Metris vans since opening in 2018.

Individually in 2021, BMW Manufacturing topped the list of highest export value for all U.S. auto manufacturers for the eighth year in a row, according to data from the U.S. Commerce Department. Last year, the plant exported 257,876 vehicles with a total export value of $10.1 billion to 120 countries — primarily through the Port of Charleston and by rail to Canada.

“I don’t think any of us could really forecast where we would be 30 years later,” Lightsey said. “Because if you think about it at the time, the vision and the boldness of that move by the leaders of our state and the leaders of BMW to make that decision to put the BMW plant in Greer, S.C. That opened up, not just for South Carolina but for the entire Southeast, the entire movement of the global auto industry into the Southern states.”

In 2021, South Carolina announced more than $15 billion worth of capital investment. The auto sector was the lead contributor with the top three investments.

Oshkosh Defense announced a $155 million investment in June to produce the next-generation U.S. Postal delivery trucks. The company expects to add 1,000 jobs. Volvo said the company would invest $118 million into Ridgeville operations to create the electric Polestar 3. At the Automotive Summit, BMW revealed that another expansion was underway in Spartanburg County. The company is adding a $200 million automotive stamping operation that will add 200 jobs.

Lightsey said the amount of investment being made in South Carolina is unprecedented when considering how the conversion to electric vehicles closely relates to the automobile and energy sectors.

As the world pivots toward electric vehicles, Lightsey said South Carolina has an opportunity to become the future leader in this sector. He also hopes manufacturers and suppliers will look to the Department of Commerce as a partner.

“We want you to understand that whatever resources we have in the Department of Commerce, whatever we can develop in terms of providing you the type of resources you need to be successful in the future, we definitely want to do that,” Lightsey said.

After all, once a business decides to relocate or establish operations in South Carolina, to hire workers and invest capital, they tend to stay, thrive and grow, Lightsey said. He pointed to BMW’s selection of Spartanburg County in the early 1990s as an example.

“If you think about that vision of 1992, if you think about where we are today, we are at the very, very beginning, the very precipice of unprecedented change in the automobile industry,” Lightsey said. “The conversion that we are just now starting to see from the internal combustion engine to the battery electric vehicle is something that hasn’t happened in over 100 years.”

Reach Teri Errico Griffis at 843-849-3144.

Job market bursting with openings but thirsty for workers

Grads wantedMany of the 7,000 local high school graduates this spring will enter a robust tri-county job market with low unemployment and busy companies begging to hire them.Hotels, restaurants, retail shops and grocery stores are plastered with “help wanted” signs mostly for minimum-wage jobs paying around $7.25 an hour.Those positions might not be appealing for some young job seekers, not yet ready for the skilled, better-paying positions popping up in the area’s burgeoning manufacturing sector with...

Grads wanted

Many of the 7,000 local high school graduates this spring will enter a robust tri-county job market with low unemployment and busy companies begging to hire them.

Hotels, restaurants, retail shops and grocery stores are plastered with “help wanted” signs mostly for minimum-wage jobs paying around $7.25 an hour.

Those positions might not be appealing for some young job seekers, not yet ready for the skilled, better-paying positions popping up in the area’s burgeoning manufacturing sector with plane and car makers leading smaller firms that supply them with parts.

Therefore, according to College of Charleston economist Frank Hafner, the recommendation for young, untrained workers skipping a four-year college or the military, is to seek training that could take less than a year for jobs paying twice the minimum wage. There are a variety of fields, where higher paying work can be trained for in relatively short order, he said.

Hafner also said teenagers should not dismiss entry-level jobs like bagging groceries. Entry-level positions, he explained, teach good work ethics and help clarify future job interests and direction. In the wake of the pandemic, he said, the workforce has also changed as Baby Boomers have either retired or dropped out, leaving openings with a quicker path to advancement for younger employees.

In addition to manufacturing, construction, computer science, transportation and logistics, medical services and hospitality are among the hot local jobs. But high school grads are not yet prepared for all of them because of education requirements, said Dr. Cathy Almquist, Trident Technical College’s vice president for education. Many of these jobs require a certificate or a two-year associate degree.

Welders, truck drivers and mechanists are mainstay, well-salaried jobs that are now getting more attention as big manufacturers are moving to the tri-county area, she said. “There has never been a collective realization of that or an emphasis on it,” she said.

“More people are now aware of those types of careers and people are now aware that manufacturing is not the mills of the 1950s.” These are no longer professions where you come home dirty, she added, citing the clean plant floors at companies such as Boeing, Volvo, Mercedes and Bosch.

Hafner dispelled the idea that the pandemic alone is the reason employers are having a tough time filling jobs in a tight labor market. The April unemployment rate was 2.4% in Charleston and North Charleston combined, according to the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce.

“We still have Covid, but people aren’t avoiding crowds,” he said. “The reasons some jobs go unfilled could be that it is not what graduates want or it does not pay enough.” The trend has been that companies are reluctant to hire unskilled young people, he added. Thus, the more training the better. He does not expect that equation to change anytime soon.

Before 18-year-old Hayden Shiell graduated in late May from Ashley Ridge High School, he was on a career path to become a diesel engine mechanic. During the school week, in addition to his regular academic classes at Ashley Ridge, Shiell also attended a technology classroom at the Dorchester County Career and Technology Center in Ridgeville to study diesel engines. Initially, Shiell wanted to be an electrician, but his buddies were in the diesel class. He switched to the diesel class to hang out with them, he said, then discovered he simply liked diesel engines. Next spring, he plans to enroll in Lincoln College of Technology in Nashville,

Tenn., to enter a 16-month program to earn a diesel engine technician degree.

Some students wait until the last minute to make career decisions, losing valuable time to prepare for that first important job interview beyond a part-time summer gig, said Rania Thompson, career specialist at Woodland High School in Dorchester County School District Four.

“The ones that are accepted to college are ready for the next chapter in their lives,” she said. “Some are going to the military. But we also have some who don’t know what they want to do. They’ve let that senior year creep up on them. The pandemic made a lot of people lazy, unfortunately. We had to sit out for a year, secluded. Now that we can do [things again] we are stuck on not doing anything.”

Employers are calling with jobs that outpace the number of students willing to apply. For those who do apply, she added, they’re often hired at job fairs at the Woodland High School in the Town of Dorchester in Dorchester County.

For several generations society has emphasized a college degree as a means to success, said Chadwick Lindsey Vail, work-based learning partnerships coordinator for the Charleston County School District. Now, he said, a four-year degree can be associated with debt. “While college is right for some students, many could be better served with focused career training,” he said. “The paradigm has shifted to specialized training.”

Vail recommends Trident as a site for short-term training courses to prepare for high-demand skilled positions with companies waiting to fill them. Some of these opportunities also come with the possibility of advancement and even a company-paid undergraduate degree.

Ben Harmon, a technician with Charleston Air Company, saw that trend toward skilled positions shifting in 2017 as he was about to leave the U.S. Air Force in Charleston. While still in the military, Harmon enrolled in a HVAC certificate program at Trident. He wanted to ensure he had a transferable skill to a civilian job. Even before he completed the program last year, Charleston Air had made him a job offer.

When it comes to its degrees and focus each year, Trident uses a two-pronged approach to determine which degree and certificate programs to cut or create, Almquist said. The college uses the Charleston Area Chamber of Commerce’s talent demand study and it convenes academic advisory committees of industry leaders twice a year.

“Our No. 1 factor for developing a new program is what the employers in our area are telling us so we can respond quickly to industry demands,” she said. “Every one of our technical disciplines has an advisory committee composed of individuals from that industry.” At Trident, 500 people serve on 40 academic advisory committees.

Willis Cantey, president of Cantey Tech Consulting in North Charleston, serves on one of these. The college, he said, “has been very responsive and has done a spectacular job of trying to adapt to what we are looking for, but there are just not enough graduates to fill the local job market.”

The Charleston County School District has extended its job-training pipeline to the middle school years to expose even younger students to careers, Vail said. Eighth graders are given a career assessment to determine their interests and gifts: “so we can align them with a program of study at one of the district’s three career centers in East Cooper, West Ashley and North Charleston,” Vail said.

Each year students, their parents and their counselors meet to “help students connect with career opportunities and to confirm or eliminate their interests,” Vail said. The district also has an online career exploration toolkit for students and their parents to become prepared for college or a career after high school (charlestonempowered.com).

In Dorchester County, Thompson touts the Department of Employment and Workforce’s Be Pro and Be Proud SC (beprobeproudsc.org). The program features a mobile workshop that arrives at job fairs to show students a variety of skilled careers. Their 53-foot, double expandable 18-wheel custom built trailer has eight simulators for truck diving, forklifts, carpentry and welding to show students that trades are just as respectable as an undergraduate degree.

Stay cool. Support City Paper.

City Paper has been bringing the best news, food, arts, music and event coverage to the Holy City since 1997. Support our continued efforts to highlight the best of Charleston with a one-time donation or become a member of the City Paper Club.

Disclaimer:

This website publishes news articles that contain copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. The non-commercial use of these news articles for the purposes of local news reporting constitutes "Fair Use" of the copyrighted materials as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law.