Through a new workforce development initiative, the McMinn County Economic Development Authority (EDA) is addressing two critical concerns in the region: a dwindling workforce and overwhelming need for qualified workers at local manufacturing facilities.
On Tuesday, the EDA launched “Your Skills. Your Future.,” a program that will provide training resources to high school graduates seeking careers in local industries, including computer electronics and medical technology, among others.
“Over 34 percent of McMinn County’s workforce is employed in the manufacturing industry and the demand for more skilled workers in the region continues to rise. At the same time, there are high school graduates who may not be suited for a four year college experience and are unaware of the available opportunities around them,” said Kathy Price, executive director of McMinn County Economic Development Authority. “Our goal is to raise awareness and create a pipeline of skilled workers by showing the community that a well-paying career with a successful future is easily attainable.”
EDA Membership Director Dana Ferguson also stressed the importance of students having alternatives that fit them better.
“There are hundreds of high school graduates and soon-to-be graduates who are not seeking a traditional four-year college degree or the student loan debt that often accompanies it,” she noted.
“Instead, they would rather meet the overwhelming need for skilled workers at local industries including DENSO Manufacturing, Athens Utilities Board, and Heil Trailer International, to name a few.”
The program was created and first implemented in Bradley County by the Cleveland-Bradley Chamber of Commerce in 2017. It was launched to help local businesses and industries meet ever-increasing demands with high school students and adults who wish to pursue technical training beyond high school without incurring significant student debt.
“The pilot Your Skills. Your Future. program in Bradley County was a unique collaboration led by business and manufacturing leaders, educators, students, and parents,” said Gary Farlow, president of the Cleveland-Bradley County Chamber of Commerce. “Prior to this initiative, there wasn’t a comprehensive workforce development resource like this. McMinn County is the first to adopt our program and we are pleased that there are other communities and organizations around the state that are interested in launching their own Your Skills. Your Future. programs as well.”
Your Skills. Your Future. is offering a wide range of resources to high school students, parents, adults, and job seekers in partnership with Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT), Cleveland State Community College (CSCC), The University of Tennessee Center for Industrial Service (CIS), and the Tennessee Career Center.
“Our goal is to build a workforce for whatever businesses and industries need. We are very pleased that McMinn County is taking advantage of it. Within the next year, we will expand the program to include resources for those interested in information technology and health care careers. Moving forward, we will do whatever we can to provide any additional support,” said Farlow.
For questions about Your Skills. Your Future. in McMinn County, visit www.yourskillsyourfuturemcminn.com or call (423)-745-1506.