TCATs welcome Sullivan County officials

Published 1:40 am Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Developing a viable economy in the state of Tennessee comes down to partnerships.
It is an item local technical school and community colleges know all too well.
Elizabethton and Morristown Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology (TCAT) hosted a joint-meeting Tuesday at Elizabethton’s Stoney Creek campus with Kingsport Chamber of Commerce and NETWORKS Sullivan County Partnership representatives to discuss the expansion of workforce development partnerships with TCAT.
It was a bit of a double-duty meeting for Miles Burdine. The president and CEO of Kingsport Chamber of Commerce was appointed by Gov. Bill Haslam in December to fill the 1st Congressional District seat on the Tennessee Board of Regents.
With the newest Regent on hand, representatives were able to provide a crash course on the progress technical schools and community colleges have been able to make across the state.
Having the ability to attain a postsecondary certification or degree is essential, according to Northeast State Community College President James King.
King spoke during Tuesday’s meeting about the growth of technical schools, and alluded to the fact Northeast State was the first official “TCAT” in the region.
“That’s one of the reasons why I came to Northeast State,” said King, who was named Northeast State’s president in late 2017. “They’re focused on technological education for our students. We have a responsibility to students, industries and the communities we serve to have a viable workforce ready.”
King, TBR vice chancellor, has seen first hand the development of TCAT – Elizabethton, from receiving NC3 certification capabilities to extending a potent base of partners to help bolster attendance and production at the school and the community.
Interest has peaked with technical schools and production has followed suit with the state’s unemployment rate reaching record numbers, between a three to four percent unemployment rate.
Dean Blevins, TCAT Elizabethton director, noted the Stoney Creek campus saw record numbers in the fall and noted that students were working while going to school and that TCAT had enrolled individuals who already received a four-year degree as they looked to enter a workforce with better pay.
TCAT Elizabethton’s numbers fall in line with TCAT averages with a 90 percent completion rate and a 91 percent placement for students coming through the school. Another element for the success noted during the meeting was that students leave school with a job and zero debt.
TCAT Morristown has also reaped the benefits of initiatives and partnerships in place.
“Students walk away from school with zero debt, ready to walk into a job,” said Jerry Young, TCAT Morristown president. Young went on to discuss the benefits their facility had seen with LEAP grants and establishing partnerships with regional businesses.
One story shared during the meeting came during talks of Work Ethic Diplomas. A student from Grainger High School was able to go through the program and saw his designs for houses be utilized into a mass-produced item for businesses.
Carter County and Elizabethton school districts are in the process of utilizing locally for students.
The Stoney Creek campus is always looking to ensure partners for workforce growth and education, according to Blevins. Elizabethton recently ranked first in the state and ranked third in the world with over 470 NC3 certifications distributed to students. Partners that have utilized Elizabethton’s resources include Snap-On and Chrysler. In Sullivan County, Blevins added that Eastman gives TCAT Elizabethton students priority when it comes to job openings due to the certification process and faculty available.
Burdine commended the efforts of both institutions during the conclusion of the meeting.

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