For Immediate Release - Southwest Tennessee Community College

Date: July 9, 2010

Bioworks Foundation Taps Southwest for DOL Green Jobs Training

A $2.9 million Energy Training Partnership awarded by the Department of Labor to the Memphis Bioworks Foundation will fund a Green training program in a two-state area. Southwest Tennessee Community College Grants Executive Director Kristie Goldsmith announced that the college has been selected as the principal training partner and awarded $1,414, 520 of the grant. The funds will be used to enhance Green strategies in the classroom and purchase state-of-the-art energy-related equipment to assist eligible participants interested in green jobs training.

Southwest will be the principal training partner in a consortium that includes Dyersburg State Community College, Jackson State Community College, the University of Memphis BEST Program and Mid-South Community College. Others involved in the Department of Labor grant program are Seedco – Structured Employment Economic Development Corporation; Tennessee Local Workforce Investment Areas # 11, 12, and 13; the Eastern Arkansas Workforce Investment Area; the National Electrical Contractors Association; and multiple employers.

Under the American Recovery and Retraining Act (ARRA), the Green Jobs Training program is set to leverage training for dislocated and unemployed workers in West Tennessee and East Arkansas to prepare them for new jobs with a future in growing industries. Initially targeted are current workers who need upgraded training; and unemployed – especially dislocated – workers in a service area comprising 21 counties in West Tennessee and five in Eastern Arkansas (the Southern Energy Training Consortium – SETC). As is apparent, the project has assembled an extensive network of employers, labor representatives, educators, workforce development personnel, and community-based organizations, each of which will implement activities and services where its specific expertise lies.

Southwest is currently modifying courses in some electrical-electronics, industrial computer, quality assurance and other technology curriculum, to include the most current alternative energy topics, according to Associate Professor of Engineering Technology Lisa Jones, who is co-coordinator with Assistant Professor of Engineering Technology Cindy Fowinkle in spearheading the grant project. Both one-year certificates and two-year Associate of Applied Science degrees are being enhanced for this program. Southwest is investing additional funds in equipment for the classes, including solar and wind trainers, programmable logic controllers and alternative energy education kits. Executive Director of Special Academic Programs Angela Ventura-Wooten is responsible for successful completion of the academic programmatic daily outcomes and the Grants Office is responsible for overall compliance with the funder. Some Green industry sectors that students will be preparing for include companies engaged in energy-efficiency building, construction and retrofit, renewable electric power and manufacturers producing sustainable products (using environmentally sustainable processes and materials). All training provider partners are similarly engaged in transforming their courses to include Green technology.

With more than 12,000 dislocated workers seeking re-training/re-employment through the career centers located in the four Local Workforce Investment Areas in the SETC target area, the career center personnel expect to easily recruit the 1000 participants targeted for the program. At Southwest, the college's Career Center (student job placement office) will also participate.

The grant program, which started in January 2010, will be completed in January 2012. "At that time," said Jones, we will be positioned to continue the 'Green' training in our programs and recruit students interested in the alternative energy industries. We'll have the basic complement – and more – of the equipment needed for teaching this updated curriculum. This grant program is adding excellent future opportunity for our students, and for the college."

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Photo Caption: Lee Trent, right, of Future Tek, demonstrates software control for the Motor Control/PLC Troubleshooting Trainer for Lisa Jones, associate professor of Engineering Technology.

For more information contact: Pat O'Brien, (901) 333-4021, pobrien@southwest.tn.edu,
Farris Bldg., Room 1002, 5983 Macon Cove, Memphis, TN 38134