The grant will allow the school district to fund the equipment and training needed to incorporate a mechatronics technology program at Cheatham County Central High School.
The grant is one of 12 statewide that was recently announced by Gov. Bill Haslam.
“The Cheatham County School District is excited to receive this grant, and this is a tremendous opportunity for Cheatham County,” said Dr. Tara Watson, the district’s chief academic officer. “We will be working with local businesses to ensure they have a qualified workforce once students graduate from high school. Many employers are seeking individuals with the skills needed in today’s technologically-advanced workplace.”
The mechatronics technology program will help train CCCHS students in the manufacturing processes with an emphasis on skills in pneumatics, hydraulics, robotics, computer controls and preventive maintenance.
An initiative of Governor Bill Haslam’s Drive to 55, LEAP was developed to ensure that Tennessee is graduating skilled workers ready to take on the jobs offered by employers and industry.
The program aims to close skills gaps by ensuring that students enrolled in courses provided by Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology (TCATs) and community colleges gain the necessary skills to meet the requirements of high-skill and high-technology jobs demanded by industry leaders in the state.
The grant is a partnership between the Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Dickson, Cheatham County School District, Hickman County School District and the Cheatham County Joint Economic and Community Development Board.
In addition to implementing the mechatronics technology program at CCCHS, the grant will allow East Hickman High School and Hickman County High School to purchase additional equipment to upgrade their current mechatronics programs.
“The grant will enable the school districts to offer a strong, technology-based curriculum with state-of-the-art lab equipment to students prior to earning a high school diploma and will prepare them to participate in work-based learning opportunities at the same time,” Watson said.
CCCHS students who participate in the classes their junior and senior years will qualify for dual enrollment credit through the Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Dickson and that can lead to post-secondary certification.
Watson, who also serves as the district’s College, Career and Technical (CTE) director, said the competition for skilled labor is important as the Middle Tennessee area is attracting new high-tech companies.
“Such competition suggests that secondary and post-secondary institutions must increase the training opportunities that prepares students for employment in high-skill, high-wage and high-demand careers,” she said.
CCCHS plans to begin offering the mechatronics technology program in the 2017-2018 school year.
“If we can eliminate gaps in the skills needed by local manufacturers and other companies and the types of degrees and courses offered by local community and technical colleges, we can strengthen our workforce to meet industry demands,” Haslam said. “These LEAP grants help create programs that tie specific training and skills to current workforce needs, helping more Tennesseans qualify for good, high-paying jobs. This is a key piece of our Drive to 55 campaign to increase the number of Tennesseans with a postsecondary degree or credential to 55 percent by 2025.”
LEAP is administered by THEC and advised by the Governor’s Workforce Sub-Cabinet.