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Tech college readies to make Lebanon home

Caitlin Rickard • Updated Oct 22, 2013 at 6:46 PM

The Joint Economic and Community Development Board of Wilson County met Tuesday, and according to a guest speaker, a Tennessee College of Applied Technology should have a home in Wilson County soon.

According to guest speaker Carol Puryear, associate vice chancellor for instruction and special projects with the Tennessee Board of Regents, renovations have begun on the Wilson County Career Technical Center.

“We’re excited about what’s happening in Wilson County,” Puryear said.

The Tennessee Board of Regents is a system that is part of a higher public education in the state and serves over state universities, community colleges and vocational-technical schools. In total, there are six universities, 13 community colleges and 27 TCAT schools.

According to the TBR website and TCAT mission statement, “The 27 TCATs and 818 employees provide state-of-the-art technical training for workers to obtain the technical skills and professional training necessary for advancement in today’s competitive job market. Through their workforce development mission, the TCATs help businesses and industries satisfy their need for a well-trained, skilled workforce. Under the governance of the TBR, the TCATs offer certificate and diploma programs in more than 50 distinct occupational fields, as well as customized training for business and industry.”

Puryear said recently TCAT received a lot of national attention for its completion and placement rates, with an 87-percent completion rate statewide and an 84-percent placement rate.

“That means if we train them to be a welder, they get a job as a welder,” Puryear said. “It happens because we’re so in tune with the community and we want to offer things that the community needs.”

Puryear said the school trains people, such as welders, machinists and computer and automotive technicians, among many others.

“Machine tool and industrial maintenance are our big programs right now. Advanced manufacturing programs are hot, no pun intended,” Puryear said.

According to Puryear, the Board of Regents has a strong partnership with the Wilson County Career Technical Center, and she hoped establishing a TCAT in Lebanon would help better serve Wilson County and the surrounding areas.

“People don’t like to leave and drive to places like Nashville and Murfreesboro; this way they can stay in the area,” Puryear said.

Puryear also said she hoped they would be offering six courses and day, evening and special industry classes. She said there are usually 22-25 students per course.

“Plus, you have to factor in night and special industry classes, so that number goes up. You really can’t give a number on how many students it’ll see,” Puryear said. “But it’s enough to make things work.”

In order to transition in the beginning, three groups, Nashville, Murfreesboro and Hartsville, would all be in a partnership to help run the Lebanon TCAT, according to Puryear.

As far as a time frame, Puryear said she hoped to “get in there as soon as possible.”

“I’m hoping and thinking sometime in the spring, maybe May at the latest,” Puryear said.

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