Governor plans Monday visit to Elizabethton TCAT

Published 10:22 pm Friday, June 12, 2015

Gov. Bill Haslam is traveling across the state promoting his free tuition plan for Tennessee adults and the program’s role in boosting the state’s workforce.
Monday, he will be at the Tennessee College of Applied Technology Elizabethton Diesel Shop at 11 a.m. for brief remarks and presentation of a Tennessee Reconnect Equipment Grant to TCAT Director Dean Blevins.
The grant will be to implement a new diesel technology program at the school, which will teach students how to repair diesel engines and develop skills they need to enter the automotive workforce.
Tennessee Reconnect is a program that allows adults to attend one of the state’s 27 colleges of applied technology for free by paying tuition and fees not covered by existing grants and scholarships. So far, nearly 11,000 Tennesseans have applied to the program.
Haslam approved $5 million in this year’s budget to fund new equipment at the TCATs. The schools have an 80 percent graduation rate and an 85 percent job placement rate across the system, according to the governor’s office.
The governor made stops this week in Clarksville, Nashville, and Chattanooga to make TCAT grant announcements.
“Out TCATs are incredibly effective,” Haslam said. “The state’s ability to attract and retain business is tied directly to the quality of our workforce, and across our 27 technical colleges, students are gaining the necessary skills to succeed and go to higher-paying jobs and better lives.’
Tennessee Reconnect is part of Haslam’s “Drive to 55” Initiative, which aims to increase the percentage of Tennesseans with a degree or certificate beyond high school from the current 32 percent to 55 percent by 2025 to help overall job qualifications and attract employers to the state.
Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor John Morgan said Tennessee Reconnect, as well as other programs Haslam has introduced to encourage post-secondary education attainment, have resulted in a transformation of how the state’s commitment to higher education is viewed across the country.
“We know the only way we can reach our goals to increase the number of Tennesseans with college degrees is to attract more non-traditional students into our programs, including and especially adult students,” Morgan said in an email sent our earlier this week. “Tennessee Reconnect does that, and it provides those adults with a variety of programs, each offering the technical skills and professional training designed to meet the workforce demand in the region or local area.”
Adults can still sign up at their local TCAT where they will then be guided through the admission and financial aid process.
The Diesel Shop at Elizabethton TCAT is located in the Vehicle Building at the Main Campus, located at 426 Highway 91, across from the Elizabethton Municipal Airport in the Watauga Industrial Park.

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