Local apprenticeship program holds graduation, hopes to prepare students for potential Blue Oval jobs

Published: Mar. 25, 2022 at 10:29 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A multi-billion dollar project coming to West Tennessee means the state is kicking into high gear to get their workforce ready.

Ford Blue Oval City hopes to be up and running by 2024.

The Governor says he’s proposing millions for apprenticeships and training for skilled workers.

Friday was graduation day at the Ironworks Local 167 Apprenticeship building.

After 120 hours of learning skills such as tool recognition, blueprint reading, history of labor unions and even CPR, four men completed the inaugural Midsouth Construction Careers pre-apprenticeship course.

It’s a program that helps students decide which field of work to go after so they can get paid while they learn on the job.

“There’s a lot of work coming this way and it’s going to change the culture of Tennessee and kind of the way work is going to be done so the type of work that’s coming more people are going to have to get their hand dirty,” said graduate Kyndell Sneed.

That is particularly true for the Ford Blue City Oval City where literally thousands of jobs will have to be filled with a skilled labor workforce.

“They were looking at 16 states and I went up there and they came down here and they talked a lot about workforce development because that was one of their key issues and concerns was will we have a workforce for them,” said Governor Bill Lee on Thursday during a roundtable discussion with Covington business leaders.

Lee talked about his plans for significant investment into career and technical training.

He is proposing putting 500 million dollars into CTE programs in high schools across the state and 200 million dollars to build new Tennessee College and Applied Technology campuses.

All 14 West Tennessee building unions teamed up with the A. Phillip Randolph Institute to create this pre-apprenticeship course to make sure everyone gets a shot at these jobs.

“We also want to be able to bring in more people from different marginalized groups. People from rural areas, women into the trades, so it’s about diversifying the trades and making sure these opportunities are available for anybody to take part in it,” said Victoria Terry with the A. Phillip Randolph Institute.

After graduation, these men will be guaranteed interviews with jobs, plus mentorship through the various unions.

For more information about the program contact the Memphis and West Tennessee Building and Construction Trades Council at (901) 725-2255.

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