Talent Advancement

Ensuring Economic Recovery

Bridging the Talent Gap

The talent landscape shifted rapidly in 2020 and continues to in 2022. Record low unemployment shifted to record high unemployment, with both displaced workers and recent college graduates struggling to find their new career path. At the same time, many of our employers are still unable to find workers with the skills they need. Talent shortages persist in IT, manufacturing and healthcare. Now more than ever, our approach to talent is critical: Activate, Advance and Align. The Chamber, fueled by Accelerate 2030 funding, is at the forefront of ensuring the Charleston region is among the first economies to recover through improved workforce alignment and skills matching to help our employers, and their workforce, thrive.

Talent 2020 & Beyond

Talent 2020 & Beyond, a report focused on a skills-first approach to meeting the Charleston region’s workforce needs, was developed using data sources that offer real-time insight into both our short-term economic disruption and our longer-term growth projections. With the disruption of 2020, the region has experienced a drastic swing from record high to record low unemployment and is now facing a new challenge – how to get people back to work and advance economic recovery.

Regional College and Career Guide

Did you know that we teamed up with our local school districts to design the Regional College and Career Guide?

We are committed to providing students and families with information about how to prepare for college and career after high school. In partnership with our region’s school districts, we developed the Regional College and Career Guide, a consolidated handbook with valuable resources about high school programs of study, college preparation and high-demand careers projected for the region.

Middle-skill jobs, requiring education beyond high school but not a four-year degree, make up the largest part of South Carolina’s labor market.

Young minds for the future


We believe that exposing students to what jobs are in high-demand and showing them how to pursue the education needed is the way forward. Preparing our future workforce begins today. Activities that increase opportunities for students to apply what they are learning in the classroom through the lens of career pathways helps begin to bridge the gap.

We activate through:

  • Career Academies: schools-within-schools that are academically rigorous and provide career-themed education in key industries.
  • TEALS: delivers high-quality instruction and hands-on learning in coding and computer science 
  • Capstone Experiences: field-based learning experiences where students apply knowledge and experience industry settings, including: Bridge Walks, Build a Shed, Hackathons, TEALS and YPAMA

We are proud to help guide students to find their future college or career path

The graduation rate is 13% higher for South Carolina students who take three or more career education classes.

Opportunities for success


Students must understand what avenues are available when it comes to post high school education. Too many young people today believe that there is only one path to economic success—the four-year degree. For many, time, duration and cost are barriers. There are opportunities out there that allow for flexibility in learning and earning, often with faster completion times and no to low debt, and we need to be the ones shining a light.

We advance through:

  • Youth Apprenticeships: students take high school classes, attend career-specific classes at Trident Technical College and work at a host employer, completing the program with a diploma, certifications and paid work experience… debt free
  • Developing workforce-savvy educators: provide professional development for educators
  • Leverage Government Relations: advocate for improved education policy and funding structures

We’ve made it easier for you to find your career fit in the Charleston region

Low-income students in early college programs are 8x as likely to obtain a college degree.

Employers and our education system


Engaging the business community and leaders in education and workforce programs is critical for alignment of the talent pipeline, allowing for rapid response to emerging opportunities. It’s about continuing to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with a changing reality.

We align through:

  • Convening leaders and experts to guide our Talent platform and programs for maximum impact. Key leadership groups include the Talent Cabinet and Human Resources Professionals Network
  • Promoting the Center for Business Research: the premiere research capabilities for internal and external economic development needs, for example, the Talent Demand Study 
  • Building community partnerships: actively engage with community partners pursuing improved education outcomes such as Tri-County Cradle to Career Coalition, Trident United Way and others

30+ new STEM degrees added to the region since the 2016 Talent Demand Study

Career Academies

Career-themed schools within high schools, teaching students relevant skills for key industries

Learn More

Youth Apprenticeships

Where students go to high school, Trident Tech and work as paid apprentices at host company

Learn More

Build A Shed

Students compete to build a shed while gaining valuable construction trade skills

Learn More


Helping close the computer science gap by increasing access to education

Learn More

Meet the Talent Advancement Team

Program Officer, Lowcountry Career Collaborative
Barbara Stapleton
Director of Emerging Workforce & Trident Regional Career Specialist
Darryl Brown
Associate Vice President of Talent
Celeste Granger

Get engaged in the Chamber’s Talent Advancement work