NASHVILLE - Tennessee Board of Regents community colleges and Tennessee Technology Centers were awarded more than $17.1 million in federal grants for job training programs in health care- and manufacturing-related fields this week.
U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis announced TBR schools will receive funds through three different awards.
A consortium of all of Tennessee’s community colleges and technology centers will receive almost $12.6 million for health care training; Chattanooga State Community College will receive more than $3 million for manufacturing job training; and Pellissippi State Community College and the TTC-Murfreesboro will take part in a $15 million Michigan-based consortium to redesign teaching and delivery programs in manufacturing.
“These awards will help our community colleges and technology centers meet the needs of some of Tennessee’s largest employers and will help fill the employment gap between the jobs available and the workforce trained to do them,” said TBR Chancellor John Morgan.
“This is an excellent example of TBR’s broader efforts to meet the goals of the Complete College Tennessee Act,” he added. “By providing more training of the type that we know is needed, we will help increase the number of Tennesseans with quality credentials, and that, in turn, will help our state’s economy.”
The largest award, $12,570,415, will go to a group comprised of all 13 of Tennessee’s Community Colleges and 27 Tennessee Technology Centers across the state for programs designed to provide health care-related workforce training opportunities for individuals while meeting the needs of the state’s health care employers and industries.
Titled RxTennessee, the project includes strategies that will provide strong student support to help students make the best health-related career training choices, successfully complete the programs they choose, and find jobs in related fields.
It will focus on health care fields for which training is most needed and where jobs are most likely to be available across the state and in specific regions. The grant proposal was developed on behalf of the TBR institutions by a team at Roane State Community College under the direction of Roane State President Gary Goff.
“We have identified health care as one of the areas of job growth for Tennessee,” said Warren Nichols, TBR vice chancellor for Tennessee’s Community Colleges. “Health care is a field that provides high growth, high demand and high wages and will allow our students to gain employment as quickly as possible. This project will include fast-track programs to help us take people off the unemployment rosters and get them back into gainful employment.”
The $3,026,496 Chattanooga State award will help the college provide training in two core manufacturing fields where demand is high – non-destructive evaluation and materials joining. The program will offer entry-level certification to train students within four to six months as well as leading to advanced certifications and two- or four-year degree opportunities.
Pellissippi State and the TTC-Murfreesboro will receive funding through a $15 million award to the Henry Ford Community College in Michigan for a consortium comprised of institutions from different states. The program is designed to bridge a “disconnect” between the needs of the workplace and content of the manufacturing curriculum offered in most colleges. The dollar value of Pellissippi State’s and the TTC’s portion of the project has yet to be determined, but each will receive a minimum of $760,000.
These grants – and others totaling some $500 million nationwide – are part of the Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training initiative, which promotes skills development and employment opportunities through partnerships between training providers and local employers. The grants focused on career fields such as advanced manufacturing, health care, transportation, and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
“We are grateful to the Department of Labor for the opportunity to compete for these grants, and I expect them to have a tremendous impact on Tennessee’s citizens,” said Morgan.
The Tennessee Board of Regents is the nation’s sixth largest higher education system, governing 46 post-secondary educational institutions. The TBR system includes six universities, 13 two-year colleges and 27 technology centers, providing programs to more than 200,000 students across the state.