Southwest's Industrial Readiness Training Program Holds Its First Graduation Ceremony

The word inspiring falls short of describing the 41 students participating in the first Industrial Readiness Training (IRT) program graduation ceremony held on December 18 at Southwest Tennessee Community College's Macon Cove Campus. Persistence would seem to be a better description. In spite of car accidents, job obligations, and family commitments, all 41 students prevailed and were rewarded with jobs at Electrolux.

The IRT program prepares students for entry-level positions as line operators or line mechanics in industry and manufacturing. Training includes topics related to technical and interpersonal knowledge and skills which have been identified by local industry leaders as critical to long-term employee success.

Graduation speaker, John Churchill, executive director of Workforce Development for Southwest, told the students even though the program had received many accolades and has had local and national recognition; it was they, the students, who made it work. Churchill reiterated the importance of acquiring both soft skills and hard skills and sharing them with others. "I can't tell you how proud I am of this group. I will challenge this group to never stop learning. Never stop sharing. Persevere, no matter what obstacles and you will win," he said in summary.

Former IRT graduate, Evelyn Jones, who now serves as a customer advocate for Electrolux, was the guest speaker. Jones gave a brief overview of her experience as a student in the IRT program, and how the knowledge and skills she gained helped her get the job at Electrolux, as well as the promotion to the position she now serves in.

Several students were recognized for their outstanding accomplishments. Ezekial Coleman-Isom was presented an award for accruing the most computer hours. Latisha Ford was recognized for her diligence and commitment to the program, having come to class after sustaining serious injuries in a horrific car accident. Cleanon Jones, Jr. and Terry Boyce were recognized for having the most KeyTrain hours for their respective classes.

Director of Workforce Development Kim Barnett, and the event's organizer said, "Pat Myers, of WIN, said it best for me. …'Last night's event was a perfect way to recognize, reward and encourage those men and women who gave their time and efforts to improve their job skills. You could feel the self-esteem and pride rise in the room.'"

"I strongly feel the graduation ceremony should be a quarterly event for the program and look forward to repeating it in March," remarked Barnett.


Photo caption: John Churchill (standing right) delivers an enthusiastic speech to the December 2013 IRT graduates (seated first two rows center).