Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced a $573,464 workforce development equipment grant for Jackson State Community College (JSCC) and the Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) Jackson to help meet the future workforce needs of area communities.
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, 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.
‘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 said. ‘We must have qualified Tennesseans to fill those positions, and these grants are going to have an immediate impact because these programs have high placement rates in fields that are looking to fill jobs now.’
Jackson State will receive $443,784 to fund needed equipment for its Advanced Maintenance Technician programs, providing the opportunity for students to learn different skills sets than are currently available. The community college has a strong relationship with Toyota and other area manufacturers and plans to establish a co-op for mechanically-inclined high school students.
The remainder of the grant, $129,680, will go to TCAT Jackson for a mechatronics trainer for students in the Industrial Maintenance program and needed upgrades and additional welding equipment for its Advanced Manufacturing programs. Last years completion rate in the welding program was approximately 82 percent with placement in the field at 94 percent. Jackson State and TCAT-Jackson have signed articulation agreements to create a seamless transition for TCAT students to transfer into the JSCC Advanced Manufacturing program. Jackson State is also offering this articulation agreement with TCATs in McKenzie, Paris, Whiteville and Crump.