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Robertson County Prepares Students for Advanced Jobs

New programs will provide training for in-demand fields like advanced manufacturing and information technology.

By Livability on October 28, 2022

advance manufacturing training in Robertson County, TN
Courtesy of Robertson County Board of Economic Development

For years, economic developers in Robertson County, Tennessee, have been working diligently to meet the needs of local businesses and industries and prepare students for job opportunities. 

The school-based Career Technical Education Department has ramped up its certification and training programs. Eighth-graders now take YouScience tests and meet with guidance counselors to determine their interest and aptitude in 16 career clusters. High school juniors shadow company mentors, and seniors find jobs through a successful fair held every spring. 

But, Margot Fosnes, chief economic development officer for the Robertson County Economic Development Board, says, “We knew that there were two areas in which we were lacking: advanced manufacturing and information technology.”

So Fosnes’ organization and others devised a plan to provide workplace training in industries hit hard by the pandemic and national worker shortage. 

First, the RCEDB, the Tennessee College of Applied Technology Nashville, the Robertson County Chamber of Commerce and three local corporations secured a $1 million GIVE (Governor’s Investment in Vocational Education) 2.0 grant from the State of Tennessee to add advanced manufacturing and IT programs at TCAT’s Springfield satellite campus. 

Pending installation of equipment, adult learners could start as early as this fall; in the spring of 2023, high school students will join them via dual enrollment classes. The initiative ensures that students get the required training to land in-demand jobs with employers who are seeking workers with those exact skills.

In addition, the RCEDB, chamber, Robertson County School District, REdi Education Foundation, Workforce Essentials regional workforce board, and partners in higher education and industry collaborated to form a new Workforce Development Task Force. One goal is to earn certification as a Work Ready Community, an initiative of the ACT WorkKeys assessment program.

“Now when companies are looking for a place to relocate, or an existing industry is looking for the potential to expand, workforce is the No. 1 thing on their list.”

Margot Fosnes, chief economic development officer for the RCEDB

“That council is also looking at other ways to reach out to parents and adult learners to educate folks on all the opportunities that are out there without getting a four-year degree,” Fosnes adds. “Those are careers that are vital and needed in Robertson County and pay very well.”

In another creative move, the RCEDB has teamed up with Tally Bevis, Miss Tennessee 2021-22 and Robertson County’s first Miss America contestant, to serve as a county spokesperson in the areas of tourism and workforce development. 

Passionate about getting students engaged in the community, the recent college graduate has used her speaking platform and social media influence to shed light on educational opportunities that lead to good-paying jobs.

While these strategies might veer from those of the past, Robertson County leaders are up for the challenge of creating a “new normal.”

“The economic development model has always been about land and buildings and utility costs and incentives,” Fosnes points out. “It has really evolved over the last 10 years. Now when companies are looking for a place to relocate, or an existing industry is looking for the potential to expand, workforce is the No. 1 thing on their list.” 

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