Southwest teams up with TCAT-Memphis and the MMBC Continuum to launch construction apprenticeship program
Southwest Tennessee Community College brought together officials from Tennessee College of Applied Technology at Memphis (TCAT-Memphis), The Memphis Minority Business Council Continuum (MMBC Continuum), and three local construction companies to form the TAP Education Consortium earlier this fall. TAP is comprised of TopCat Masonry Contractors, Inc., A-1 Electrical Contractors and Precise Concrete Works, LLC.
Owners from all three companies have entered into a construction apprenticeship program agreement that will enable 30 TCAT-Memphis students to earn while they learn skills in masonry, electrical or concrete—10 students per track. The students will work during the day and attend TCAT-Memphis at night beginning in January.
President Tracy D. Hall announced the joint venture along with TCAT-Memphis President Roland Rayner and MMBC Continuum President & CEO Jozelle Luster Booker earlier this month during a press conference at TCAT-Memphis. “We are the pipeline and the TAP Education Consortium Apprenticeship Program is win-win-win for Southwest, TCAT Memphis and the businesses who are giving these students a chance to learn while they earn,” Hall said.
Once apprentices earn their diploma from TCAT-Memphis, they will be able to seek higher education at Southwest. “We are developing an articulation agreement that will empower the apprentices to receive course credit for what they learn at TCAT and on the job so that they can continue their education up to the associate degree and even beyond if they so choose,” Dr. Hall said.
TAP was formed to address the construction industry’s declining skilled labor workforce and to propel graduates along a career trajectory to well-paying jobs in the community. Program participants will earn $10-11 an hour starting out with potential for increased pay throughout the program. Eligible residents must have a high school diploma or general equivalency degree (GED) and meet TCAT-Memphis admissions requirements. Participants who qualify for federal and state financial aid, including Pell and Tennessee Promise or Reconnect, may study tuition-free.
The TAP Consortium represents another partnership between Southwest and TCAT-Memphis.
This is an outstanding program that could serve as a model for future apprenticeship programs, TCAT-Memphis President Roland Rayner said.
Having businesses partner directly with us to hire our students while they study is a perfect fit as our mission is to empower our graduates to compete for the abundance of well-paying, high-skilled jobs in our community.
The MMBC Continuum was instrumental in bringing the businesses to the table. Booker says the organization works to support the growth and scale of minority businesses and has presented the Joint Venture concept to its M/WBE members for several years. “We are proud that three of our members have come together to develop the TAP Education Consortium,” she said. “Not only did they identify a way to partner and collaborate, but they saw a gap in the future workforce of their respective industries and decided to build a pipeline of skilled workers. Their efforts will impact our economy to help address unemployment and underemployment, consumer consumption and much more.”
Interested participants can apply online to TCAT-Memphis or call (901) 543-6132 for more information.