TBR Governor’s Competitive Grant for Workforce Development Funding Advanced Manufacturing
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced a workforce development grant of $843,000 for Northeast State Community College to enhance Advanced Technologies programs.
The governor proposed, and the General Assembly approved, $16.5 million in this year’s budget for equipment and technology related to workforce development programs at Tennessee colleges of applied technology and community colleges. The funding is part of Haslam’s “Drive to 55” effort to increase the number of Tennesseans with post-secondary credentials.
These strategic investments resulted from the governor meeting with businesses and education officials across the state last fall to better understand workforce development needs. One of the most common themes he heard was the lack of capacity and equipment at Tennessee colleges of applied technology and community colleges to meet job demand, so these grants are aimed at addressing those gaps.
“This money will be used for very specific programs where industry is telling us they need more graduates – that can mean everything from robotics to mechatronics to welding - all places where we have employers saying ‘if you’ll produce more graduates we have the jobs for them.’” Haslam said. “That’s why it’s so critical we fund programs like this that are strategically important to our growth as a manufacturing state.”
Currently, only 32 percent of Tennesseans have certificates or degrees beyond high school, and studies show that by 2025 that number must be 55 percent to meet workforce demands. Haslam’s Drive to 55 initiative is designed to address that workforce need on several fronts, including the funds for the state’s colleges of applied technology and community colleges.
“The equipment that will be made available through the workforce development grant will serve to further provide Northeast State students the capability and confidence to successfully enter Advanced Technologies related careers,” said Northeast State Vice President of Economic and Workforce Development Jeff McCord.
The grant will allow Northeast State to obtain state-of-the-art equipment that will provide students the opportunity to learn new skills consistent with the technology used in industry. The equipment will be an integral part of the College’s new $35 million emerging technologies complex, which is currently in the design phase.
According to Sam Rowell, dean of Advanced Technologies, Northeast State will acquire 10 robot training stations and a mechatronic training station. In addition, the College will upgrade surface grinders, prototype machines, and a cylindrical grinder, as well as replace a current metal shear.
The addition of this equipment creates an integrated training program that will impact about 200 students, who will be prepared for using similar equipment and systems utilized by some of the area’s largest employers.
“Today’s announcement serves as an example of how cooperation and partnerships among public and industry leaders provide an exciting future for our students, and as a result, a strong foundation for economic vitality,” said Northeast State Foundation President and Triad Packaging President Lee Shillito.