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In partnership with the Niswonger Foundation a workshop was held at the Tennessee College of Applied Technology on Tuesday, July 15 for more than 50 high school counselors and career and technical education instructors from the northeast Tennessee region.

The group toured the campus gaining detailed knowledge of the school’s program offerings.

During the tour, they spoke with students and instructors about how TCAT’s programs function, the job possibilities and salary expectations after certificates are earned.

Jerry Patton, TCAT Director, stated, “In recent years, the college has evolved its curriculum to help meet the needs and demands of the local job sector and foreseeable future careers.  I have learned recently that more than 1,000 jobs are available within the Lakeway Area from within the career center and are not being filled because the available workforce doesn’t have necessary skills for the jobs.” 

These factors have prompted TCAT to increase the rigor as well as technology in the classroom.  They have incorporated rapid prototyping systems, such as a 3-D printer, into the curriculum of the drafting and CAD course, as one example.

Patton shared that TCAT will be a part of the Tennessee Promise, Governor Haslam’s initiative, offering free higher education for all graduates in the coming year and expects that enrollment will increase from that.

Carlos Hammonds, CTE Coordinator for the Niswonger Foundation, stated, “A lot of people fail to realize how much science and math is involved in the career and technical education classes.  You go into an auto shop class and you have to read measurements and make sure it’s precise, so those skills are necessary beforehand.”

Dale Schneitman, Dual Enrollment Coordinator for the Niswonger Foundation shared, “with branch campuses in Greeneville and Phipps Bend in Hawkins County, as well as in Tazewell, there are opportunities for high school students to take dual enrollment classes and be prepared quicker for a career or further education. It is not just the provision of skills, there’s some really good work going on here.”

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