Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced a workforce development grant of $259,700 for Volunteer State Community College for establishing a networking laboratory for a new computer information science program.
The governor proposed and the General Assembly approved $16.5 million in this year's budget for equipment and technology related to workforce development programs at Tennessee colleges of applied technology and community colleges, part of Haslam's “Drive to 55” effort to increase the number of Tennesseans with post-secondary credentials.
These strategic investments resulted from the governor meeting with businesses and education officials across the state last fall to better understand workforce development needs. One of the most common themes he heard was the lack of capacity and equipment at Tennessee colleges of applied technology and community colleges to meet job demand, so these grants are aimed at addressing those gaps.
“Currently, only 32 percent of Tennesseans have certificates or degrees beyond high school, and studies show that by 2025 that number must be 55 percent to meet workforce demands,” Haslam said. “We must have qualified Tennesseans to fill those positions, and these grants are going to have an immediate impact because these programs have high placement rates in fields that are looking to fill jobs now.”
The equipment at Volunteer State Community College will provide computer science training that includes cyber-security, data analysis, mobile application programming, Voice Over Internet Protocol and virtualization training. Volunteer State will develop a program designed to reduce the cost and time it takes IT students to obtain high-wage professional jobs. The program will provide hands-on skills training as well as critical thinking ability.
According to the University of Tennessee Center for Business and Economic Research, occupations in computer and information systems security are among the state's most under-supplied career pathways. A Georgetown University study estimated about 7,000 computer and mathematical science jobs in Tennessee will require at least an associate degree by 2018.