Camden Area

Keep on rolling – VR helps bus drivers stay on the job

Cecelia Maples was having trouble “walking the bus.”

“Walking the bus” refers to making a safety check of a school bus that includes checking all lights, ensuring all equipment is functioning properly, and examining the interior and exterior of the vehicle for damage. Drivers perform this check at least four times a day.

Cecelia has been a school bus driver for the Kershaw County School District for 14 years and loves her job. But she had been having difficulty walking for almost two years, and it was getting worse. Now it was affecting her job.

“I could barely walk and when I did, it was just agonizing pain,” she says. “If I can‘t walk my bus and I can‘t sit down and drive the bus, then I‘m going to be out of a job.”

Cultivating the seeds of success

“We’ve hired ten percent of our workers through the VR SWAT program,” Jeff Mang, plant manager of HBD Thermoid, tells a group of business and community leaders during the 1st Annual Camden Area Business Cookout at the Camden Work Training Center on August 17.

The group includes more than 40 representatives from Lee, Kershaw and Camden counties, who are learning firsthand how VR helps businesses find talented employees through services such as Skilled Workforce Apprenticeship Training (SWAT).

“We make the very best transmission belts for lawn mowers in the world,” Mang continues, “and these employees are our top tier performers. They are knowledgeable and excited to come to work.”

Behind the scenes of success

Robert Truesdale, Business Development Specialist in the Camden area, is thrilled with the success of the 1st Annual Camden Area Business Cookout.

“We’ve already had ten new job leads from five different companies, and we have a client who will begin an OJT (on the job training) opportunity tomorrow. We’re also meeting with several employers to discuss how we can better prepare our clients to move into employment with them.”