By Michelle Price
UCBJ Managing Editor
GAINESBORO – The new TCAT-Livingston Jackson County Instructional Center has answered the call for additional local training options in specialized fields. This employer-driven facility features programs in information technology and power line construction and maintenance technology, needs that at least one area company found challenging.
Ten months ago, Jonathan West, Twin Lakes CEO, contacted Dr. Myra West, TCAT Livingston President, to discuss a need his industry was experiencing. He told her about the need for linemen and how the local cooperatives in Middle Tennessee and across the state in electric and communications have to travel outside the state to get training. It was expensive for citizens and employers.
“Twin Lakes is building a gigabit fiber network to the homes of the UC Region,” Jonathan West stated. “That construction is just now starting and the maintenance of that fiber network will continue for many years. To enable that to be a success in the future we need employees.”
Jonathan West explained that currently before someone can be a lineman, they are traveling to Georgia, Kentucky and all over the southeast U.S. to get training.
“It’s a real challenge for someone to say that they are going to take off work for 13 weeks, pay $10-12,000 to enroll in linemen school and be out of state, not seeing their families for four to five months,” stated Jonathan West. “The linemen course will ensure that telecom companies like ours and electric cooperatives across the state will have a pool of trained individuals to provide the service that all of us depend on every day.”
Then the discussion moved to IT and the need for people to fill tech support jobs. As Chairman of the Highlands Economic Partnership, Jonathan West had worked with Myra West and TCAT Livingston to develop an ‘IT Pathway.” Twin Lakes wanted to utilize this program and expand on it.
“The IT program will help us fill the need for tech support jobs and to enhance the skillsets of our existing employees,” shared Jonathan West. “We started this with the help of TCAT. We had the idea to move our tech support services in-house, no longer using out of state or out of region people to provide support to our customers.
“TCAT has helped us fill that void. We just started that in the last year and our intention is to grow that and to expand that and to give some of the students here in Jackson County an opportunity to get on the job experience and to support our valued customers.”
The Jackson County Instructional Service Center is located at 255 Devil Lane, Gainesboro. For more information about these programs, see tcatlivingston.edu or call 931-823-5525.