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Tennessee Leap

Tennessee LEAP, Labor Education Alignment Program, is designed to ensure colleges are producing graduates with the skills and credentials Tennessee employers actually need.  Designed to eliminate the skills gap across the state, programs were established using data-driven proactive research to encourage collaboration between institutions of higher learning and employers.  Take a look at the list of programs below that have already been established across Tennessee that connects students of community colleges and Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology (TCATs) to participate in technical training developed with input from employers.

Contact Curt Johnston, at the Tennessee Higher Education Commission for more information.
Education and Workforce Alignment Director
(615) 741-7575

  • Advanced Manufacturing and Workforce Center

    School Partners: Roane State Community College & TCAT at Harriman
    Business Partners: SL Tennessee
    Dienamic Tooling Systems
    Capstan Tennessee

    Program Summary:
    The Advanced Manufacturing and Workforce Center is a regional collaborative initiative comprised of a number of training opportunities to ensure the skilled workforce needs of Anderson, Roane, and Morgan counties and the surrounding area.  The goal  is to enhance the Mechatronics training to prepare workers for a host of advanced manufacturing/industry maintenance and technician jobs, including developing PLA policies, including but not limited to internships and job readiness components in training, purchasing new equipment, and offering new dual enrollment classes.


    Regional Apprenticeship Preparedness Program

    School Partners: TCAT Athens
    Business Partners: Southeast Tennessee Development District

    Program Summary:
    This program aims to recruit, train, and sustain a skilled advanced manufacturing workforce in Southeast Tennessee by introducing dual enrollment and dual credit courses in seven high schools in three counties, addressing negative perceptions of manufacturing via strategic marketing, hiring part-time instructors in high schools, purchasing training equipment for the high schools, and installing the Pathways to Prosperity mechatronics cluster in high schools.  This region already benefits from the Southeast Tennessee Pathways to Prosperity, so this project will strengthen the regional footprint and educational impact by focusing on high-demand advanced manufacturing jobs.  The program aims to enroll 100 students in the seven high schools in fall 2015.

  • Strengthening the Lakeway Links: Providing a Demand Driven Workforce Supply Chain

    School Partners: Walters State Community College
    Business Partners: Smoky Mountain Area Workforce Board

    Program Summary:
    This project will limit the gap between the demand for advanced manufacturing jobs and the availability of qualified workers in Hamblen, Hawkins, and Grainger counties (the Lakeway Area) by introducing a soft skills curriculum to all middle school students in these three counties, developing a Work Ethic diploma which will include elements such as drug testing, attending, tardiness, and participation in CTE and dual enrollment, providing remediation for CTE students, creating four new sites for specialized industrial electricity skills training for high school students through dual enrollment, establishing an additional site for industrial maintenance instruction (tripling TCAT-Morristown’s ability to serve incumbent workers), and increasing dual enrollment in Walters State’s electromechanical program. Local industries have committed to providing 27 paid summer internships for high school students.
  • Advanced Manufacturing/Industrial Maintenance/Mechatronics in the Upper Cumberland

  • School Partners: TCAT Livingston
    Business Partners: Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency

    Program Summary:
    Advanced Manufacturing/Industrial Maintenance/Mechatronics training to the secondary schools in three counties: Overton, Putnam, and White. Manufacturing is the region’s largest employment sector, being home to over 200 manufacturing companies in Jackson, Overton, Putnam, and White counties. This grant will specifically address the manufacturing needs stated in the ECD Regional Strategic Plan.


  • Closing Gaps through Partnerships

    School Partners: TCAT Pulaski
  • Business Partners: South Central Tennessee Workforce Alliance
  • Program Summary:
    Covering a seven-county area in southern middle Tennessee, this project focuses on filling the workforce pipeline in Production (Manufacturing) Pathways starting with the high schools. Over the course of the next two years, the program will give hands-on education and training in targeted technologies to almost 4,000 high school students. The program will address specific employer needs in the advanced manufacturing sector - the region’s largest and fastest growing industry - where there are hundreds of unfilled positions due to lack of prepared workforce. The program will ensure that all high school students in the area have access to education, information, and transition pathways from school to workforce or relevant post-secondary education.


  • Filling Gaps Between Industry and Employees with Manufacturing Technology

    School Partners: TCAT Shelbyville
  • Business Partners:  South Central Tennessee Development District, Calsonic, Tyson, Nichirin
  • Program Summary:
  • This project will expand the existing, high-demand Industrial Maintenance (IM) program in Middle Tennessee to establish facilities in Bedford, Marshall, Franklin, and Lincoln counties. In fall 2014, 104 students were enrolled in the program, with an additional 144 on an interest list. The number of students on the interest list is expected to increase in fall 2015 as more students plan to enter post-secondary due to the Tennessee Promise scholarship. These counties have a desperate need for maintenance technicians with fundamental competencies. Graduates from the IM program will fill entry-level maintenance technician positions at local places like Calsonic, Tyson, and Nichirin, to name a few. The grant will help purchase training equipment and update labs and classrooms at all four new locations which will address the current skills gap in the region.


  • IT Pathways Collaborative

    School Partners:  Nashville State Community College
  • Business Partners: Nashville Technology Council
  • Program Summary:
    This project creates a regional partnership that addresses the IT skills gap in Middle Tennessee by promoting IT career opportunities in Davidson, Williamson, Rutherford, and Sumner counties. Combined enrollment in IT courses at Nashville State, Columbia State, and Volunteer State is 616 students, while their capacity is 2,220 students. By 2024, the number of positions for the “Top 5 IT Occupations” in Middle Tennessee is projected to increase by 18%. The IT Pathway Collaborative will reach its goal of increasing the number of students entering IT programs and subsequently filling skills gaps by enhancing current IT academic programs through technology employer engagement, corporate involvement, and K-12 programming as well as providing internships, apprenticeships, and mentoring opportunities. The IT Pathway Collaborative’ s corporate partners have already committed to providing internship and apprenticeship opportunities for 291 students.


  • MAD About Technology--Mobile Applications Development and Innovative Technologies

    School Partners: Columbia State Community College
  • Business Partners: South Central Tennessee Workforce Alliance
  • Program Summary:
    This project will form a new academic program at Columbia State for mobile application development, aimed at meeting current and future employer IT needs in Lawrence, Maury, and Williamson counties. Williamson County alone is expected to have a 36 percent increase in Application Software Development between 2013 and 2023. The courses for this program will be offered at three of Columbia State’s five campuses: Franklin, Columbia, and Lawrenceburg, with each section of the course serving up to 24 students at a time


  • Manufacturing and Mechatronics for Soldiers and Students (M²S²)

    School Partners: Nashville State Community College
    Business Partners: North Tennessee Workforce Board
  • Program Summary:  this project will establish career pathways in advanced manufacturing in Cheatham, Dickson, and Montgomery counties. Training programs located in high schools, Fort Campbell, and a new advanced manufacturing center in Dickson will provide mechatronics training with goals of enrolling 125 high school students in CTE courses in advanced manufacturing, recruiting 156 soldiers to mechatronics programs, certifying 200 additional individuals, and providing 75 people opportunities to have internships or on-the-job training, to name a few.
  • Certified Production Technician (CPT) Pathway to Advanced Manufacturing

  • School Partners: Dyersburg State Community College
    Business Partners: Northwest Tennessee Workforce Board
  • Program Summary: The CPT program will provide industrial readiness training to 350 high school students in 11 counties in LWIA 12 through Dyersburg State Community College and the Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology in the region. This program will assess and remediate secondary students in up to 17 secondary school systems to achieve a Silver Level National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC), qualifying students to enroll in the CPT courses. These funds will also train CTE facilitators in high schools, provide additional CPT instructors at DSCC and the TCATs, buy materials, assess students after completion of each module, and provide for coordination with employer partners to offer job shadowing, mentoring programs, and internships for students.


  • LEAP Memphis

    School Partners: Southwest Tennessee Community College
    Business Partners: Greater Memphis Alliance for a Competitive Workforce (GMACW)
  • Program Summary: Greater Memphis Alliance for a Competitive Workforce & Southwest Tennessee Community College The Greater Memphis Alliance for a Competitive Workforce (GMACW) is the result of an 18-month collaboration and planning process under the auspices of The Memphis Shelby Regional Economic Development Plan, supported by the Brookings Institution and led jointly by FedEx, City of Memphis Mayor A C Wharton and Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell. The LEAP Memphis project will provide resources for the GMACW staff to work with manufacturing and transportation, distribution, and logistics industry councils to document workforce skill requirements and pathways, broker training and education solutions for employers’ short- and long-term needs, establish a database of current and projected demand occupations and program capacity, work with schools to improve high quality training programs, and facilitate strategies addressing education pathways.


  • LEAP to Success

    School Partners: Jackson State Community College
    Business Partners: Jackson Regional Partnership
  • Program Summary: Jackson Regional Partnership & Jackson State Community College This project will develop an advanced manufacturing career pathway to address the workforce needs identified by companies in the rural counties of Carroll, Chester, Crockett, Decatur, Gibson, Hardeman, Hardin, Haywood, Henderson, Henry, Madison, and McNairy. Advanced manufacturing represents 24 percent of West Tennessee’s employment. This project will formalize and implement a career ladder that begins in high school with a certificate as a certified production associate, with an emphasis on mechatronics, and continues on to TCAT diplomas in welding technology, machine tool technology, and tool and die, and then an Associate of Applied Science in industrial technology and a Bachelor of Science in engineering technology. Currently, only two high schools in the 12-county area offer the certificate. This project will expand the program to several other high schools starting in spring 2015, with a goal of serving over 245 students in the pathway by the end of the two-year period.