Local job placement efforts for the state of South Carolina are handled by 56 SC Works Centers. While the state’s jobless rate has declined for eight straight months, falling below 9 percent in March for the first time in more than three years, there’s still much to be done.
Job One is responding to the client base. And that can mean something as simple as answering the phone.
Unfortunately, a recent audit of the agency found that didn’t happen 25 percent of the time in a statewide sample study.
“In these cases, either no one answered the phone, it was busy or the call went to voice mail,” the Legislative Audit Council reported.
In the majority of calls that went to voice mail, callers were informed that the mailboxes were full.
In another test sample, the LAC called all the local SC Works Centers as if they were employers seeking information about how to place a job order. In 14 percent of the cases, the LAC investigators were either unable to leave a message or their messages weren’t returned.
The SC Works Center was included in the recent audit of its parent agency, the Department of Employment and Workforce.
The larger audit found numerous shortcomings in DEW despite a 2010 legislative reform of the agency. That overhaul was implemented following the insolvency of the state’s unemployment fund under its predecessor, the Employment Security Commission.
The department is now a Cabinet agency and, as such, merits the close attention of Gov. Nikki Haley, who has made bringing jobs to the state her No. 1 priority. That attention should extend to the SC Works Centers.
SC Works officials say improvements are under way, including for telephone and online services.
Continued executive oversight is warranted.
In this instance, it could be as simple as picking up the phone and making a call.