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Greenville Business Magazine

Smart education and workforce investments are critical for our community’s ability to thrive and grow

By Charles McManemin

Fluor has been a part of the Upstate community for more than 85 years, and the company is proud to be an instrumental contributor to the ongoing vitality and economic growth of the region.

As a corporate citizen committed to social responsibility, Fluor makes an impact wherever we have operations or projects—not only through client capital projects, but also through community engagement, employee volunteerism, and philanthropy. Fluor and its employees’ purpose is to transform the world by building prosperity and empowering progress. A significant part of how we do this is by working to create resilient, sustainable communities wherever we live and work. 

Fluor’s partnership with organizations like Ten at the Top and Public Education Partners is one such example. These organizations have been working to address the current and future state of education and workforce in the Upstate by bringing together representatives from K-12, post-secondary education, and the business community to explore and identify opportunities to collaborate on issues, including the South Carolina teacher shortage. 

Fluor believes that education—especially science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)—is a foundational component for student and community success in the 21st century and crucial for society’s ability to innovate, solve problems, and compete on a global basis.

When people think of STEM careers, they typically think of engineers and scientists. And while they are correct, there are other STEM careers that receive less attention, but are just as important, such as those related to construction management and skilled crafts, welders, carpenters, and pipefitters. All use math and science to determine dimensions, placement, and load strength for the structures they are building.

The wide range of STEM careers also includes those that work with computers, like programmers and data managers, to those that work with numbers all day, such as accountants, analysts, and auditors. Each discipline or career is critical to the successful completion of a project.

Fluor employs individuals in all STEM careers. For more than 100 years, Fluor employees have built petroleum plants that fuel commerce and enable transportation, pharmaceutical facilities that help provide medicines for people in need, and roads, railways, and bridges that connect our cities.

Fluor is one of the world’s largest publicly traded engineering, procurement, fabrication, construction, and maintenance companies, offering integrated solutions for complex and challenging capital projects for our clients and governments around the world. With clients and projects on six of the world’s seven continents and 53,000 employees around the globe, enormous skills and capabilities are required to successfully complete some of the world’s largest megaprojects.

That is just one reason why Fluor invests in programs and initiatives that inspire and prepare students to excel in STEM subjects and disciplines in K-12, including STEM teacher training and professional development, so they are prepared and committed to developing the next generation workforce. 

In 2018, Fluor and its employees provided more than 255,000 students around the globe with more than 2.2 million hours of STEM training and enrichment by investing in school-based curricular enhancements, outreach, and high quality out-of-school time activities. 

While many positions in the workforce require four-year or advanced degrees, there are also very important and much needed positions that do not, notably in the Upstate and other locations where the manufacturing economy is on the rise. To help meet the demand for skilled craft labor, Fluor established the Craft Education Initiative in 2013 to increase awareness of and help students attain high-value construction industry certifications. Working with schools like Greenville Tech here in the Upstate, Fluor’s contributions have supported the enrollment of about 4,900 students in training and career and technology courses since the program’s inception.

While STEM education and training is critical to Fluor’s success, there are specific skills and characteristics Fluor looks for in its employees regardless of their career path: excellent communication and problem solving, teamwork, emotional intelligence, flexibility, and a strong work ethic. Those soft skills are critical when working in an environment where innovation and entrepreneurial thinking are embedded in the company’s culture and are required to execute complex projects safely, smartly, and of the highest quality.

The Upstate is competing in an increasingly complex world stage where standing still or not fully leveraging our region’s current and future human capital is not an option. We believe smart education and workforce investments are critical for our community’s ability to thrive and grow, and Fluor is committed to helping prepare the Upstate’s next generation workforce. 

Charles McManemin is the general manager of Fluor Corporation’s Greenville, S.C. office. Since joining Fluor in 2002, McManemin has served in multiple positions within projects, sales, and business development. In his most recent role, he served as the chief of staff for the office of the chairman at Fluor’s headquarters in Irving, Texas. Previous to that, McManemin served in Fluor’s Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates operations center.