Equipping Tennessee’s Automotive Emerging Leaders in the Appalachian Region

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UT CIS develops initiatives related to a recent Appalachian Regional Commission grant awarded through the office of Tennessee Economic and Community Development.

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The University of Tennessee Center for Industrial Services (UT CIS) is developing initiatives related to a recent Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) grant awarded through the office of Tennessee Economic and Community Development (TNECD).

The grant awarded to UT CIS, an agency of the UT Institute for Public Service, targets Tennessee’s automotive industry in the Appalachian region through employer listening sessions, workforce assessments, leadership and supply chain training, and other training needed to address workforce challenges, with particular focus on distressed counties.

The employer listening sessions - the first initiative of the grant - begin April 12, with the objective of hearing directly from the employers in the regional automotive sector about their specific leadership and supply chain training needs. The results of these sessions will guide UT CIS in deployment of leadership development training in Tennessee’s ARC region this summer for front line supervisors.

The impact of these listening sessions will only go as far as the local employers take it. This initiative’s tremendous value lies in the opportunity for employers to have a voice in the development of leadership training related to automotive supply chain, emerging leaders, and future industry growth. As Tennessee’s workforce ages, it is essential that employers identify, develop, and train employees to assume roles handed off by retiring leaders. These sessions will enable employers to do just that.

“The ARC workforce project provides a great opportunity to help the region’s automotive suppliers address leadership transition and other workforce challenges. By listening closely to our automotive customers and working with our DRIVE! Consortium partners, we will take another step toward an integrated and comprehensive approach to workforce development in the automotive sector,” said UT CIS Executive Director Paul Jennings.

The DRIVE! for the Future is an Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) initiative for a 69-county region in central Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky and Georgia. IMCP encourages communities to develop comprehensive economic development strategies that will strengthen their competitive edge for attracting global manufacturer and supply chain investments. Consortium members include TNECD, the Tennessee Automotive Manufacturing Association (TAMA), the Tennessee Board of Regents, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Pathway Lending.

Tim Waldo, a UT CIS workforce consultant and internationally experienced organizational management professional, will lead the initiative for UT CIS. With 17 years of manufacturing experience under his belt, Waldo has already begun tackling resource-driven initiatives and workforce partnerships, in Tennessee and across the US, to ensure that UT CIS workforce development activities address customer needs.

For more information on this and other Tennessee workforce development efforts, contact Waldo at TWaldo(at)tennessee(dot)edu or visit UT CIS’ website.

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