Tennessee community and technical colleges are not only the college of choice for students seeking short-term training for high-wage careers but are a driving force for businesses choosing to relocate or expand their operations in Tennessee. Strategic partnerships between TBR – The College System of Tennessee and local businesses have laid the foundation for a workforce pipeline that eliminates concern in finding qualified and highly skilled labor – an enticing incentive at a time when nationwide labor shortages are still high.
“As we recruit industry to Tennessee, one of the deciding factors is whether or not we have a trained workforce readily available and the educational system to retrain and upskill,” said Bradley Jackson, president and CEO of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “It makes our job easy when we tell them our state has prioritized technical training through our community colleges and TCATs and can provide customized training if needed.”
The College System partners with industry experts to develop short-term programs leading to credentials aligned with industry need. What makes the partnership even more attractive is the ability to provide employers with rapid response technical training that adapts to changes within the company’s environment. These collaborations make Tennessee stand out as a place where industry can thrive and be assured they can maintain a skilled workforce.
For example, Ford announced its partnership with SK Innovation in September 2021 to bring its new $5.6 billion BlueOval City manufacturing facility to Stanton, TN, where it will produce the next generation of electric trucks and batteries to power future electric vehicles. The College System’s career-to-workforce pipeline for technical training and the agility to provide an onsite training facility gave Tennessee a clear edge over other states in Ford’s decision.
In addition, companies such as Volkswagen, Smith & Wesson, LG Chem, General Motors and TRISO-X have all chosen Tennessee to relocate or expand their existing operations thanks to a job-ready workforce and partnerships with our community and technical colleges to provide them with specialized training.
During Governor Lee’s fifth State of the State address Monday evening, he mentioned how Tennessee’s investments in technical training programs have been a driving force for companies to choose Tennessee.
“This is why we invest in TCATs. This is why we recruit great companies to Tennessee,” said Lee when introducing recent TCAT Morristown graduate Brad Barnard, who went back to college to gain new technical skills and became employed as a programmer with McNeilus Steel Incorporated, another company that expanded its operations in Tennessee in 2019.
As Tennessee moves forward, its community and technical colleges are ready to adapt to future workforce needs in high demand areas such as healthcare, information technology, transportation, manufacturing, and automotive technology.
The state’s recent recommendation to invest nearly $1 billion to expand technical training sends a message to those outside looking in – that Tennessee places priority on not only a better way of life for Tennesseans, but on a skilled workforce for industry prosperity and a strong state economy.