Charleston Regional Development Alliance

Berkeley, Charleston & Dorchester Counties

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New global trade courses fill job demand, shape careers

Jun. 1, 2003
Charleston Regional Business Journal
Sergio Fedelini, vice president of Mediterranean Shipping Co. in Mount Pleasant, has job opportunities for importing and exporting experts, shipping professionals and others knowledgeable about international trade.

“We’re growing,” he says. “We have seven positions open, and when we fill them we’ll be up to 150 employees.” And there’s more growth in store, he notes.

Fedelini is confident he will fill those and other positions that may arise, thanks in part to a new program the South Carolina World Trade Center is developing and that Miller-Motte Technical College in North Charleston will be teaching this fall. Courses will cover cargo transportation, importing and exporting, supply chain management and other subjects related to international trade. The program will fall under Miller-Motte’s business technology curriculum.

“Our mission is to train students and place them in jobs,” says Louise Rainis, Miller-Motte’s business and corporate development officer.

John Garcia, managing director of the SCWTC’s World Trade Institute, which develops international trade education programs, points out that Miller-Motte students “are guaranteed a job if they perform well.”

Garcia and Rainis first discussed an international trade program for Miller-Motte about six months ago. The timing was perfect. Miller-Motte was looking to expand its program offerings to include courses relating to operations at the Charleston port—“which is right in our back yard,” says Rainis—while Garcia was looking to spread his trade education initiatives.

Each international trade course will be worth three credits and cost $840. The SCWTC will select the instructors, consisting of international trade professionals. Upon successful completion of the course work and passing a final exam devised by industry experts, graduates will receive not only an associate’s degree but also a certification in international trade—and, most likely, a job.

Rainis believes the program will appeal to a variety of career seekers. “For example, someone already working in a warehouse and who wants career mobility. Or a truck driver who wants to move up and track cargo rather than haul it. Or someone who wants to make a career change into international trade.”

Mediterranean Shipping’s Fedelini praises the program. “It’s good for us and good for the freight transportation industry.”

In addition to the Miller-Motte initiative, the World Trade Institute has a program Charleston County School District Deputy Superintendent Barbara Dilligard considers good for high school students. The program is called Global Markets, and its purpose is to ignite in 11th graders an interest in the importing/exporting career path.

Global Markets is part of an effort to get Charleston County schools to focus on specialty programs that prepare students for particular careers.

“Teaching everything and focusing on nothing was the old way,” explains Dilligard, adding that particular skills or interests were left untapped and undeveloped, resulting in students who generally were left unmotivated. “So we asked schools to focus on particular programs that could develop a child’s skill. We said, ‘Let’s specialize.’”

The SCWTC’s Garcia helped certain schools do just that. He introduced Global Markets, which he developed with the help of the state Education Department, in February 2002 to R.B. Stall, Burke and North Charleston high schools. It’s a computer-based interactive program that encourages economically challenged students with even a vague interest in business to think globally.

In the program, kids study global marketing and economics, learn about cultural differences and are introduced to different monetary systems. Garcia believes that students who usually don’t shine academically can, through this program, glow entrepreneurially and get started on a world trade career path.

“We want to tell kids we know they come from a difficult background, and we want them to succeed,” he says.
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