U.S. Department of Labor awards Southwest $1M to upskill Mid-Southerners for IT jobs

For more information, contact: Diana Fedinec, Director of Public Relations and Media (901) 333-4247 dfedinec@southwest.tn.edu

The United States Department of Labor awarded Southwest Tennessee Community College a $998,405 Apprenticeship: Closing the Skills grant to provide 800 apprentices with a pathway to IT careers and continued education.

Southwest is among five community colleges and state systems nationwide to receive funding from the $100M grant that was disbursed to 28 public-private partnerships across the US to support and expand IT-related apprenticeships. DOL will fund the grant project for four years.

“This is an outstanding opportunity to scale up our efforts to provide Southwest students with career and technical education and essential skills training that prepare them for the world of work,” President Dr. Tracy D. Hall said. “This critical funding will enable us to help even more students transform their lives through credential attainment and upward social mobility. It’s an honor to be among a select few community colleges to receive this funding.”

The five community colleges and their grant amounts include:

  • Alamo Colleges District, $1 million
  • Colorado Community College System, $2 million
  • Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana, nearly $4 million
  • Oakland Community College in Michigan, $4 million
  • Southwest Tennessee Community College, $998,405

Recent studies indicate the United States is facing a growing IT skills shortage, meaning there are more job openings in IT professions than candidates to fill them. Greater Memphis Apprenticeship Program is not only designed to help close the skills gap, but also to create a pipeline of trained, motivated workers from underemployed and underrepresented populations, including women, people of color and ex-offenders, in 10 counties in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas.

Southwest will partner with the University of Memphis Herff College of Engineering to establish the apprenticeship program that will pilot, improve, assess, and scale new apprenticeships in the IT industry. The grant will provide student apprentices with essential skills training through SouthwestWORSKs, technical instruction, paid on-the job training and supportive services. Graduates will earn college credit, short-term certificates and industry-recognized credentials that include CompTIA A+, CCNET, CCNA, Linux+, Comp TIA Security+ and CIW Web Foundations.

“The IT profession is exploding and Southwest offers training and credentials that empower our students to not only compete for great jobs, but also succeed in them,” Business and Technologies Dean Dr. Robin Cole said. “The credentials certainly will make Southwest graduates attractive candidates for area, regional and national employers and the apprenticeships will help them arrive to work ready on day one.”

Southwest looks forward to working with the University of Memphis in collaboration with corporate partners LabFour, IMC Companies, eBiz Solutions, and trade industry groups represented by the Greater Memphis IT Council, Greater Memphis Chamber, Intelligent Transportation Society of Tennessee and the Apprenticeship Advisory Committee.

The apprenticeship program will launch this summer.