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July Meeting Recap: Tidewater Community College Leadership Address VSRA General Membership

The July General Membership Luncheon meeting was held on Tuesday, July 19, 2016 at the Portsmouth Renaissance Hotel. The Guest Speaker was Dr. Edna Baehre-Kolovani, PhD, President of Tidewater Community College. Dr. Baehre-Kolovani was also accompanied by Dr. Corey McCray, Vice President for Workforce Solutions, and Mr. Todd Estes, Director for the Apprenticeship Institute at TCC.

Click here to view the PowerPoint Slides presented by Tidewater Community College.

In introducing Dr. McCray and Mr. Estes to provide details of TCC offerings, Dr. Baehre-Kolovani stressed the importance of a strong partnership between TCC and VSRA, and her vision that the college take the role of listening to the needs of industry in developing workforce and apprenticeship programs, rather than trying to sell programs already in place.

Dr. Corey McCray then spoke about the flagship program of the TCC/VSRA partnership: the VSRA Pre-Hire Marine Trade Training Program. Providing a brief history of the program, Dr. McCray stated that the Pre-Hire idea began with Newport News Shipbuilding, in collaboration with several of Virginia's Community Colleges, and ran at a very high success rate for several years before Newport News passed the torch to VSRA. Presently, VSRA is working with TCC to provide hands-on, entry-level training courses in marine coatings, electrical, and welding.

Dr. McCray also spoke on the desire for TCC to listen to changes in the industry and adapt to meet those needs. For instance, he said, if NAVSEA standards for welding processes change, TCC wants to be involved in those changes so that they can adjust their curriculum accordingly.

Dr. McCray then introduced Mr. Todd Estes, director of the Apprenticeship Institute at TCC. Mr. Estes identified himself as the "new kid" at TCC, but assured the membership that he is not new to the industry, having come through the Newport News Shipbuilding Apprenticeship School and working at the deck plate level for several years. Mr. Estes touched on some of the apprentice-related instruction provided by TCC, and stressed that this is not a "one-size-fits-all" approach: the college prides itself on flexibility in offerings, and an ability to tailor programs to meet the needs of employers.

Mr. Estes also discussed the plans for two Pre-Apprenticeship pipelines currently in development: an accelerated shipbuilding pre-apprenticeship program for adult learners, and a high school pre-apprenticeship program for those still in school. The Accelerated Shipbuilding Pre-Apprenticeship would run as a 16-week course in the evenings, allowing those with current employment to enhance their skills and credentials. The High School Pre-Apprenticeship Program would focus on students during their junior and senior years, providing trade training as well as developing skills in STEM areas through dual-enrollment.

However, most importantly, Mr. Estes stated, is TCC's recognition that, "we can't do the talking; we have to do the listening" to understand the needs of the Ship Repair Industry, which he described as a community that TCC is, "incredibly interested in serving."

Finally, Dr. McCray finished the discussion by giving an overview of other programs offered by TCC's Center for Workforce Solutions. Among those, an incumbent worker training program in partnership with Opportunity, Inc. that will pay 50% of the cost for increasing the credentials of current workers at companies with 250 or fewer employees; a SNAP-ET program that utilizes a $3.4 million research grant to assess the literacy level of low-income workers using the SNAP program, provide training to bring the individual's literacy level up to standards, then provide credential training and seek internships to return that individual to the workforce at a higher income level and higher standard of living; and a program called FANTIC that leverages commonwealth funds to offset costs of other credential programs for low-income individuals.

For more information on any of TCC's offerings, please visit their website at TCC.edu, and view the TCC brief provided at the luncheon in its entirety by clicking this link.

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