Satellite Campus in Mount Pleasant: Key to Tennessee’s Brighter Future
The Tennessee College of Applied Technology, in partnership with Mount Pleasant and the South Central Tennessee Development District, is applying for a $2 million grant from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission’s Labor and Education Alignment Program (LEAD) this July to establish a satellite campus in Mount Pleasant.
The satellite campus is seen by leaders from the community and the business sector as an effective answer to the state’s growing need for skilled industrial workers.
The campus would offer classes in industrial mechanics, robotics, industrial electricity and electronics, welding, eco-friendly technologies, and a lot more.
“We are running out of workers and we need some kind of training program to move forward,” Maury County Mayor Charles Norman remarked during the leaders’ industrial round-table at the Mt. Pleasant Grille.
The leaders considered the community center in Mount Pleasant as a strategic location for the proposed satellite campus.
According to city manager Kate Collier, “That building is a great facility, but it is under-utilized. The fact that it is located between three schools is ideal. You could graduate from high school and move over right there.”
Mount Pleasant is a city in Maury Country that’s very rich in history. It was once known as the “Phosphate Capital of the World.”
The large community center is situated between three educational institutions that are attended by elementary, middle, and high school students.
Yet, as Collier further declared, the satellite campus would only occupy minimal space within the center. Most of the center’s facilities would still be enjoyed by members of the community.
What was more, the proposed new vocational education center would be open for dual enrollment among high school students in the locality.
Kelli Kea-Carroll, Director of the Tennessee College of Applied Technology, stated to all visitors at the meeting that their college has already set a very impressive record of more than 90% in student completion and placement rates under identical programs at their other campuses in Waynesboro, Hohenwald, and Shelbyville.
Dr. Chis Marczak, Director of Maury County Public Schools, shared his own optimism with the business and community leaders.
Based on their current statistics, students graduating with work-based learning, military preparation, industry certification, and dual-enrollment experience constitute only 42.8%.
The new program, should the grant application be approved, would be opening a door of opportunity to 57.2% of their high school students.
South Central Tennessee Development District Consultant Walt Wood did also emphasize the numerous benefits that the proposed satellite campus would bring to the business community.
He assured everyone that the general advisory board of the Tennessee College of Applied Technology would be working closely with local businesses in the program formulation. This way, the specific manpower needs of the business sector would be effectively addressed.
Shortage of skilled workers continues to haunt various parts of the country, and the condition is becoming more and more critical. There are many job openings, but companies are not finding the right people.
Based on the Conference Board’s analysis of the labor market, American employers would suffer even more difficulty in finding skilled workers in the coming ten to fifteen years.
Besides the serious problem with skill gap, even the number of working-age Americans is not able to fill up the enlarging number of vacancies created by retiring baby boomers.
In their 25-year forecast on the US economy, the Conference Board reported that the country would experience a mere 1.5% growth on average from 2005 up to 2030 due to the worsening labor shortages. It’s a grim future for the nation, if not effectively resolved.
But Tennessee is not waiting for such kind of economic disaster to happen. Kea-Carroll encouraged all of the business leaders at the round-table to make their pledges of continuing support for the industrial maintenance program to gain the grant’s approval.
This timely program will create a brighter future not only for the citizens of Mount Pleasant, but the whole region of Tennessee as well.