Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced a grant of $337,297 for Walters State Community College to fund needed equipment for an industrial skills and training program and an advanced welding program.
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 Gov. Haslam’s “Drive to 55” effort to increase the number of Tennesseans with post-secondary credentials.
“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. “These workforce development equipment grants help us directly meet workforce training needs.”
The grant for Walters State will allow the community college to establish its own welding training facilities instead of sharing another school’s facilities.
The new advanced hands-on training program will provide welder certifications sanctioned by the American Welding Society. There are no other AWS-certified welding schools in the Walters State service area.
Walters State’s new high-level Industrial Skills Assessment and Training Program will prepare students for high-demand, skilled manufacturing jobs. Approximately 5,000 to 8,000 students will benefit from the enhanced training capabilities provided by this grant.
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.