Tennessee’s community and technical colleges delivered more than 1.6 million hours of direct workforce training in 2022-23

Instructor Delivery Training

Driven by a growing number of apprenticeship programs, Tennessee’s public community and technical colleges delivered 1.628 million hours of direct workforce training in 2022-23, the Tennessee Board of Regents Center for Workforce Development announced today. TBR colleges trained 50,589 students and served 880 companies through their broad range of workforce programs.

Center for Workforce Development
  • The 13 community colleges delivered a total of 1,089,573 workforce training hours – a  39.6 percent increase over the previous academic year – serving 41,638 students/employees and 835 businesses.
  • The 24 Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology (TCATs) delivered a total of 538,561 workforce training hours, serving 8,951 students and approximately 45 businesses.

Walters State Community College, which delivered 325,495 workforce training hours, led the community colleges in the number of training hours provided, followed by Northeast State Community College with 133,285 and Chattanooga State Community College with 107,977.

The direct workforce training programs and their statistics are a separate category of instruction from the traditional for-credit academic, career and technical education programs provided at the community and technical colleges, whose overall enrollment and credit hours are not included above. For example, a Power Line Worker Training and Safety Program at TCAT Murfreesboro provided 5,908 power line workers with 153,422 hours of training last year.

Dr. Jeff Sisk, executive director of TBR’s Center for Workforce Development, explained that workforce training for partner industries is both part of the colleges’ mission and the state’s community college funding model.

“TBR’s colleges offer a comprehensive slate of programs and services within their service delivery areas. In addition to traditional for-credit academic and career and technical education programs leading to associate degrees, diplomas and certificates for students, workforce training for specific skills needed by business and industry is a major component of the mission of the community colleges,” Sisk said. “Tennessee is one of the few states in the nation that incentivizes colleges’ workforce development partnerships with state appropriations.”

A major portion of the nearly 40 percent increase year-to-year at the community colleges is a growing number of apprenticeships, administered by the colleges’ workforce offices, which enable students to learn while they earn as employees of sponsoring businesses.

“Tennessee employers are facing a tight labor market and a skilled labor gap. Both are obstacles that hinder a company’s efforts to succeed in the marketplace. Apprenticeship programs are a great strategy to assist employers with their skilled labor challenges,” Sisk said.

Apprenticeships accounted for approximately 70 percent of the total workforce hours provided at Walters State.

“Within Walters State’s 10-county service region, we have launched many partnerships with local employers for apprenticeships. While some are new, others are returning with more employees due to the success of the apprenticeship packages from previous years,” said Dr. Tony Miksa, president of Walters State. “The majority of apprentices are coming from the manufacturing, allied health, utilities, and hospitality/tourism industry sectors.”

At Northeast, approximately 80 percent of the workforce hours were via apprenticeships, much of them through the college’s Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing (RCAM).

“Our passionate staff and knowledgeable instructors teamed with leading educational resources/labs to create the world-class training that is RCAM,” said Cindy Necessary, Northeast’s industry training and credentialing coordinator. “Alongside our proactive industry partners, we are truly making a difference now and for future generations.”

Jo Starling, programs and services coordinator at Northeast’s RCAM, added: “We at the Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing attribute our success to cultivating strong relationships with our students and economic partners. Our ongoing business develops from our regional reputation among our partners, alumni, and current students.”

Chattanooga State’s vice president of economic and workforce development, Bo Drake, said that 40 percent of the college’s workforce training hours were attributed to college-sponsored registered apprenticeships. “We take pride in our commitment to bridging the skills gap by seamlessly blending education and employment, to the advantage of our students, and business and industry partners.

“Our apprenticeship programs span a wide range of sectors, including legal, medical, technical, and industrial fields. Our college-sponsored apprenticeships are powerful tools for connecting talent with opportunities, and our model operates efficiently and effectively, freeing employers from administrative burdens,” said Drake, who is also interim vice president of Chattanooga State’s College of Applied Technology.

To learn more about TBR’s Center for Workforce Development, the training programs and each community college’s workforce training statistics, click here.

The College System of Tennessee is the state’s largest public higher education system, with 13 community colleges, 24 colleges of applied technology and the online TN eCampus serving approximately 140,000 students. The system is governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents.