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Education summit bridges gap between classrooms and workplaces in preparation of Blue Oval City

JACKSON, Tenn. (WNBJ) - An educational summit was held in the hub city today at the West Tennesse Agriculture Research and Education Center to discuss ways to implement workforce development into the region in preparation for the Blue Oval City.

West Teach, a program with the University of Tennessee at Martin hosted the West Tennessee Education Summit in Jackson today. At the summit, panel members spoke about ways to enhance workforce developments program in school systems across west Tennessee. They also gave updates on the Blue Oval City.

“They are going to start moving ground this spring in the next few weeks and then in 2024 is when they will start hiring employees for the Ford plant and the battery plant. They will be at full production with around 5,800 employees by the end of 2026,” said Mark Herbison, the President/CEO with HTL Advantages.

The President and CEO of HTL Advantages, which stands for Haywood, Tipton & Lauderdale counties spoke to educators about some updates on the project.

“The state is going to fund a new 45-million-dollar TCAT, Tennessee College of Applied Technology, at the Mega-site. We are very excited about that, and the governor announced last year that he is going to put in an additional 80 million dollars in funding for the TCAT in west Tennessee to increase their capacities so we can start graduating a lot more people out of those TCAT facilities.”

The West Teach hosted the education summit to bridge the gap between the classroom and workplace.

“One of the biggest things we got to do is prepare and that not only includes looking at how to educate our adults to get ready for this wonderful opportunity with Ford Motor Company. But, what are we doing in the middle schools and the high schools to prepare over the next five, six, seven, eight, and nine years to better prepare students,” said

Keith Carver, the Chancellor at the University of Tennessee at Martin.

One attendee from Dyer County says getting communication flowing on these ideas early is the key.

“Anytime we can connect education with the workforce we have to know what those expectations are. I think this is a great way to connect those two together,” said Kim Worley, the Director of Schools at Dyersburg City Schools.

The President and CEO of HTL Advantages say they should be breaking ground on the Blue Oval City on March 15th.

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