Skills Gap / Workforce Development

'The biggest thing is exposing the students' - Tennessee manufacturers work to tell the story of manufacturing today

By the Chattanooga (TN) Times Free Press

May 09, 2019

Carri Smith of Valmont Industries, which makes infrastructure and irrigation equipment in Marion County, Tennessee, said 85% of its workforce is skilled labor, and it struggles to fill those positions.

Smith said Valmont has partnered with Marion County Schools and makes a point of getting out in the community.

"The biggest thing is exposing the students," she said, adding that the company tries to change the impression they may have of manufacturing. "Advanced manufacturing is different from what they're exposed to."

Blake Freeman, director of the Hamilton County Department of Education's Future Ready Institutes, said it's important to show students there are a lot of options available to them.

Freeman said that next year there will be 27 institutes which challenge the traditional approach to education in high schools by developing career-themed small learning communities. Almost half of all high school freshmen will be involved in some way with the new institutes.

Read the full story, "Workforce training is key for manufacturers in the Chattanooga region," at 

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