Press Release from the Tennessee Governor’s Office, Oct. 21, 2013;
WHITEVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam Monday announced a workforce development grant of $126,549 for the Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Whiteville to enhance the machine tool program at the school’s extension campus in Brownsville.
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.
“This grant will provide upgrades to equipment for hands-on learning in the metal working field at the school,” Haslam said. “We will need qualified Tennesseans to fill skilled positions in the workforce, and these programs help fill that need.”
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 at the Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Whiteville will be a computer numerical control lathe and a vertical machining center. This state-of-the-art equipment better prepares the school to address needs with advanced technology in high-quality academic programs. Tennessee is seeing growth in manufacturing, and manufacturing sector employment gains are expected to continue to rise in the state, according to the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Tennessee.