Employer Strategies to Overcome the 2024 Labor Shortage in South Carolina

2024 South Carolina labor shortage strategies, labor shortage in south carolina, 2024 labor shortage, EB-3 Visa green card jobs

South Carolina is grappling with labor shortage that is affecting various sectors of its economy.

There are currently 100 open job positions in the state for which only 43 workers are available.[1]

South Carolina’s labor shortage is not a sudden phenomenon but the culmination of several years of shifting demographics, economic changes, and unforeseen circumstances.

The situation has prompted a broad reevaluation of workforce development strategies, labor policies, and financial models to address the challenges of businesses, workers, and policymakers.

One of the primary drivers of the labor shortage is demographic shifts, including an aging population and a declining birth rate.

The aging workforce is particularly pronounced in South Carolina, where many baby boomers are reaching retirement age and exiting the workforce in large numbers.

This trend is leaving a significant gap in experienced and skilled labor that is not easily filled by younger generations.

The state’s education system has been under pressure to produce graduates with the necessary skills to meet the demands of modern employers.

There is a growing disconnect between the skills taught in educational institutions and the skills demanded by industries, leading to a mismatch in the labor market.

The state government and educational institutions should also emphasize vocational training and apprenticeship programs to quickly equip individuals with the skills needed in the labor market.

The shortage should influence broader economic policies as state officials must consider long-term solutions, including attracting workers from other states, investing in automation, and rethinking immigration policies to allow for a larger influx of foreign labor.

Addressing the labor shortage in South Carolina requires a multifaceted approach that involves collaboration between government, businesses, educational institutions, and other stakeholders.

Five Strategies to Mitigate the Labor Shortage

1. Investment in Workforce Development Programs:

South Carolina should invest in workforce development programs that equip individuals with the skills needed in high-demand industries.

This program includes expanding vocational training, apprenticeship programs, and partnerships between educational institutions and businesses to ensure graduates are well-prepared for the workforce.

Thirty-nine percent (39%) of employees in the U.S. consider the potential for growth as a contributor to employee satisfaction[2]

South Carolina can bridge the skills gap and provide a steady pipeline of qualified workers to fill critical positions by aligning education with industry needs.

The state can collaborate with businesses to identify specific skills shortages and tailor training programs to address those gaps.

By offering incentives for businesses to participate in workforce development initiatives, such as tax breaks or grants for training programs, South Carolina can encourage companies to invest in developing their workforce and contribute to building a more skilled labor pool.

2. Attraction and Retention Strategies:

South Carolina can implement ways to improve the overall quality of jobs and enhance workplace conditions to attract and retain workers.

Ways include offering competitive wages, benefits, and opportunities for career advancement to attract top talent.

Workers in South Carolina face considerable difficulties, with an annual income of $38,870, which is $13,000 less than employees in Alaska.

South Carolina is not only ranked low in terms of overall state happiness, but also has a high employee turnover rate of 3.1%, resulting in a total employee satisfaction score of 31.65, indicating a challenging work environment.[3]

Providing flexible work arrangements or flexible scheduling, can appeal to a broader range of workers, including parents, caregivers, and individuals looking for work-life balance.

Promoting a strong workplace culture that values diversity, inclusion, and employee well-being can help businesses retain their workforce and reduce turnover rates.

Employee retention strategies, such as professional development opportunities, mentorship programs, and recognition for performance, can also contribute to a more engaged and committed workforce.

3. Collaboration with Educational Institutions:

South Carolina can strengthen its workforce by fostering closer collaboration between educational institutions and businesses to ensure that students are prepared for the labor market demands.

This includes expanding partnerships between schools, colleges, and employers to provide students with work-based learning experiences, internships, and on-the-job training opportunities.

This can help businesses remain competitive, enhance their capacity to meet demand and create new opportunities for workers to upskill and transition to higher-value roles that complement automated processes.

A continuous learning and innovation culture empowers its workforce to thrive in a rapidly evolving economy.

Educational institutions can better prepare students for the workforce and equip them with the skills employers seek if they align the curriculum.

In the academic year 2023, the S.C. Commission on Higher Education (CHE) released a report stating that over 40,000 students in South Carolina were provided with financial aid based on their need.[4]

South Carolina can support initiatives that promote lifelong learning and upskilling, enabling workers to adapt to changing technologies and market demands throughout their careers.

Automation should be accompanied by workforce training programs that prepare workers for the changing nature of work.           

South Carolina can invest in reskilling and upskilling initiatives to help workers transition to new roles, acquire digital skills, and adapt to emerging technologies.

4. Hire foreign workers

2024 South Carolina labor shortage strategies, labor shortage in south carolina, 2024 labor shortage, EB-3 Visa green card jobs

The EB-3 visa program, also known as the third preference employment-based immigrant visa, can be a valuable tool for addressing the labor shortage in South Carolina by facilitating the entry of workers from other countries.[5]

Incorporating the EB-3 visa program as a strategic tool to address the labor shortage in South Carolina can help the state attract skilled workers, fill critical job vacancies, and enhance its competitiveness in a rapidly evolving global economy.[6]

The EB-3 visa is designed for workers with job offers in the United States, providing a pathway for foreign workers to fill positions that require specialized skills or experience.

The state can use the program to recruit talented individuals with expertise in high-demand fields to bolster its workforce, drive innovation, and support economic growth.

Through the EB-3 visa program, South Carolina can harness the full potential of its workforce and position itself for long-term success and prosperity.

The Bottom Line

South Carolina can bridge the skills gap and build a stronger, more resilient workforce by investing in workforce development programs, implementing attraction and retention strategies, and fostering collaboration between educational institutions and businesses,

Employers in South Carolina should also explore the EB-3 visa program to fill critical positions with competent international workers.


[1] Makinzi Hoover, Stephanie Ferguson and Isabella Lucy. “Understanding South Carolina’s Labor Market”. https://www.uschamber.com/workforce/understanding-south-carolinas-labor-market

2 Imed Bouchrika, Phd. “68 Training Industry Statistics: 2024 Data, Trends & Predictions”. https://research.com/careers/training-industry-statistics

3 Phil Strazzulla. “Which U.S. State Has the Happiest Employees?”. https://www.selectsoftwarereviews.com/blog/happiest-employees-usa

4 Midlands Technical College. “Students Celebrate Higher Education in South Carolina”. https://www.midlandstech.edu/news/students-celebrate-higher-education-south-carolina

5 EB3 Work. https://eb3.work/

6 USCIS. “Employment-Based Immigration: Third Preference EB-3”. https://www.uscis.gov/working-in-the-united-states/permanent-workers/employment-based-immigration-third-preference-eb-3