TNCC Receives Grant for Career Coach in Advanced Manufacturing


Published: August 28, 2008

Thomas Nelson Community College has received a grant from the Virginia Community College System for a new Career Coach in Advanced Manufacturing.

The Thomas Nelson career coach will work with students in the Greater Peninsula high schools including the New Horizon’s Governor’s Academy for Innovation, Technology, and Engineering (GAITE).   Students will learn about high school and college articulated courses in career pathways for employment with Peninsula companies in advanced manufacturing, engineering, and engineering technologies.

The new career coach will focus on advising interested junior and senior high school students on the education and skill requirements for specific jobs in advanced manufacturing including robotics, green manufacturing, and computer design, modeling, and simulation at such businesses as Canon, Northrop Grumman, NASA, and Alcoa Howmet.

“The opportunities in advanced manufacturing are unlimited and pay extremely well, most starting at $30,000 or higher with full benefits with a Thomas Nelson Community College technical education,” said Dr. Deborah Wright, TNCC Vice President for Workforce Development.

Students will learn about employers that will pay the student’s college tuition at TNCC for a certificate or degree program, as well as those that pay continuation to Old Dominion University, she said. “Some ‘earn and learn’ companies, like Canon Virginia, will even hire high school graduates who meet the entry requirements and pay them wages while they both work and take TNCC coursework toward a customized advanced manufacturing certificate,” Wright added.

Canon will be hiring for 880 advanced manufacturing technicians over three years as a result of a major expansion initiative, and TNCC is leading a regional workforce development collaborative to prepare the technicians through a combination of credit courses and non-credit training.

The new TNCC career coach, who will circulate to 25 high schools, will collaborate with 4 current TNCC career coaches and CTE high school staff, according to TNCC’s Dr. Crystal Taylor, who supervises the career coaches on the Peninsula. “This coach could potentially impact as many as 5,000 students in three years to choose careers in advanced manufacturing,” she said. The orientation will include visiting area businesses to understand their unique business needs, priorities and skill requirements and establish effective relationships between the schools and the businesses that will employ their graduates.

“This collaboration between TNCC and the area School Divisions to advise and prepare students, especially minorities and females, for the high demand, high skilled, and high wage technician positions on the Greater Peninsula is truly exciting,” according to Joseph Johnson, Executive Director for New Horizons Regional Education Centers.  Statewide, high schools with community college career coaches have seen a 19% increase in enrollments in career and technical programs, according to a study by the Virginia Community College System.

The career coach, who will be housed at New Horizons Regional Education Center, next to the robotics and fiber optics labs, will serve in a part time position for 1500 hours a year for three years, beginning October 1, 2008.



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