Can Boeing find enough qualified workers in South Carolina?

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by GLENN FARLEY / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @GlennFarley

KING5.com

Posted on November 19, 2009 at 11:27 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 23 at 2:17 PM

CHARLESTON, S.C. – Boeing plans to build three Dreamliners per month. But will there be enough qualified workers in South Carolina?

Trident Technical College makes no secret of the fact that their aircraft assembly training is primarily for Boeing and that's where most of their students hope to end up.

Josh Boyd has 11 years as a mechanic in the Air Force working on fighters. He is still in the Reserves working on Boeing-built C-17's.

"It's just like anything else. You gotta practice, work hard and study," he said.

But Boyd takes issue with those who say Boeing won't be able to find the skills in South Carolina to build jets.

"Any area can become a juggernaut for production. It's all up to the people, and the people they're recruiting," he continued.

"In the last three weeks, we have about 20 people a week try and get into our program, and we have a waiting list of about 80 right now," said Barry Franco, the Dean of Aeronautical Technical Studies.

The training program started five years ago when Boeing's 787 suppliers came to the state.

But not everyone who comes to the college has an aviation background.

"Taking somebody from the bottom is our specialty. We can give them the skill set that they need. Then they'll go through post hire training," he said.

Darrell Stallworth is switching careers and a job at Boeing is a big draw.

"That would be a nice place to work, nicer environment, more high technology," said Stallworth.

So this school's job is to provide enough people for Boeing and that could run into the thousands to get this airplane program off the ground.

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