Educators, economic development professionals assemble for second TNTrained class

TNTrained's second class at TCAT Murfreesboro's Smyrna Campus

Fifty-one educators and economic development professionals from state and local agencies assembled this week to launch the second class in the TNTrained program, a new initiative of the College System of Tennessee and the state departments that help recruit new jobs to Tennessee.

TNTrained is designed to create a unified approach to recruiting and retaining businesses and jobs – by providing professionals in education and state and local agencies with a common knowledge base of best practices, strategies and skills in working with businesses interested in coming to or expanding in Tennessee. The program also developed a toolbox of resources that TNTrained graduates can use in their work.

Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor Flora W. Tydings said TNTrained was created also to make it easier and faster for the state’s 13 community colleges and 27 colleges of applied technology to collaborate with state and local economic development officials earlier in the job-recruitment process. The public community and technical colleges play a major workforce development role, provide specialized training for employees of new and existing industry, and as a whole are the largest driver in the state’s Drive to 55 initiative to equip at least 55 percent of Tennesseans with a college degree or other high-quality postsecondary credential by 2025.

The program is a partnership among the College System of Tennessee, the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (ECD), the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, the Department of Education and the Department of Human Resources.

This second TNTrained cohort will meet in three two-day sessions during the next 2½  months and conclude with a one-day session Nov. 1 when class members will present several collaborative projects using the knowledge they gained in the program. The projects are case studies in how teams from multiple agencies and institutions work together to recruit specific business prospects. Graduates of the program will be awarded TNTrained certificates.

The first TNTrained class convened in January and its 74 graduates were awarded certificates April 9. The first group was composed of faculty and administrators from the community and technical colleges and economic development professionals from the partnering state agencies. The second class was expanded to include professionals from several local chambers of commerce and industrial development boards across the state.

This week’s sessions were held at the Tennessee College of Applied Technology Murfreesboro’s Smyrna Campus. ECD Commissioner Bob Rolfe, Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Burns Phillips and the College System’s vice chancellor for economic and community development, Dr. Carol Puryear, welcomed the 51 students with opening remarks on Wednesday. The Wednesday and Thursday sessions included presentations by other officials from the partnering agencies.

“TNTrained is a partnership with ECD, Labor and higher education designed to recruit industry to Tennessee and expand current business and industry in Tennessee,” Puryear said. “The sessions will concentrate learning about our partners – secondary education, higher education, local chambers, Labor, and ECD.  We will also spend time on learning to manage projects, practicing collaboration, and analyzing our strengths and weaknesses.”

Dr. MaryLou Apple, who chairs the Board of Regents’ Workforce Development Committee, also attended Thursday’s sessions. “TNTrained is a grassroots initiative that has developed a comprehensive collaboration among all entities needed to ensure Tennessee has a trained workforce now and for the future,” she said.

For more information on TNTrained:

The College System of Tennessee is the state’s largest public higher education system, with 13 community colleges, 27 colleges of applied technology and the online TN eCampus serving approximately 140,000 students. The system is governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents.