GRANITEVILLE — Aiken Technical College will offer free South Carolina Manufacturing Certified Training beginning next year through its Training and Business Development Department.

The state-funded program has openings for 125 people who are 18 years of age or older.

“Manufacturing firms are in the mode of hiring,” said Steve Simmons, Aiken Tech's dean of business, computer technology and training. “They are looking for qualified workers and struggling to find individuals with the right background and the right training to move into entry-level positions in manufacturing.”

To qualify for the training at Aiken Tech, applicants must successfully complete drug tests and background checks, score Silver or better on the ACT WorkKeys test; have at least a high school diploma or GED and be able to provide documentation, and be committed to completing the classes.

“Our game plan is to offer the program from January through June,” Simmons said.

Sessions will last for 10 weeks, with classes scheduled for four hours each day or night, Monday through Friday. Students will learn about manufacturing processes and production, quality practices and measurement, safety and maintenance awareness.

Such training usually costs around $2,000, according to Simmons.

“Manufacturing technology has changed over the past 20 or 30 years to where it's not the same type of assembly-line process that we think of from the 1940s and 1950s,” he said. “The equipment used to run these manufacturing lines is very sophisticated, and a person with a higher skill set is required to operate it.”

Individuals who complete the training program at Aiken Tech will receive assistance with finding jobs.

“We have relationships with local manufacturing companies, and, at the end of each training session, we are going to have an invitation-only job fair where we will be introducing our graduates to employers,” Simmons said.

Aiken Tech is offering information sessions about the training at its amphitheater, which is located in the 700 Building on campus, on Friday from 10 to 11 a.m. and from 1 to 2 p.m.

“We already have 40 people coming, and we hope to get more,” Simmons said. “If someone is interested in finding out more about the training after Nov. 22 or if they can't make it on Nov. 22, they should contact us.”

For more information, call 803-508-7489.

Aiken Tech is located at 2276 Jefferson Davis Highway.

Dede Biles is a general assignment reporter for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since January 2013. A native of Concord, N.C., she graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.