In a post-pandemic recovery, TBR’s community and technical colleges delivered over 1 million hours of workforce training to 2,000 companies

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At fiscal year-end 2022, the College System of Tennessee’s community and technical colleges reported 1,027,159 hours of workforce training and continuing education – a 10% increase from the previous fiscal year and 15 months after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

With the pandemic came the increased demand for highly skilled workers in fields such as healthcare, advanced manufacturing, cybersecurity, and professional truck driving. As a result, the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) Center for Workforce Development pivoted to assist Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology (TCATs) and community colleges in partnering with local communities, high schools, and industries to provide training aligned with immediate industry needs.

“We cannot say enough about the critical role our community and technical colleges played in ensuring Tennessee employer’s needs were and continue to be met during and after the pandemic,” said Dr. Jeff Sisk, the new executive director of TBR’s Center for Workforce Development. “We encourage businesses and industries needing customized training to reach out to us or their local TCAT or community college for partnership opportunities.”

The pandemic’s unprecedented negative impact on the labor pool and employment left Tennessee’s business and industry leaders trying to stay on top of an ever-changing environment and growing competition. 

Invigorated by the need to not only retain and upskill Tennessee’s current workers but to train a new workforce in high-demand areas quickly, TBR’s Center for Workforce Development was reimagined, enhanced, and relaunched, and is ready to help. The Center started working closely with business and industry experts to partner with its colleges in developing curriculums and programs that would deliver a rapid response to workforce training needs. The flexibility of these short-term and specialized programs developed allows business and industry to work more efficiently and quickly adapt as changes occur. Tennessee community and technical colleges were ultimately able to serve over 2,000 companies with workforce training in FY22.

Since 2017, the College System has made significant strides to improve and reshape its organizational structure and mission to better focus on student success and workforce development. The transformation that evolved from this shift in priority has been the most significant in the system’s 50-year history. 

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.