Norris “LEAP” Law To Help Educate And Employ Tennesseans

Monday, February 18, 2013

Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) has filed legislation creating an "innovative statewide initiative merging traditional college coursework with technical training to address the skilled labor shortage faced by Tennessee employers."

Senate Bill 1330 creates the Labor Education Alignment Program allowing students at Tennessee's technology centers and community colleges the opportunity to combine occupational training in a high-skill or high-technology industry with academic credit and to apply that experience toward a degree. 

"I've met with a number of industries in high-tech manufacturing ready to expand in Tennessee but for a lack of qualified employees, and I know of many Tennesseans who can't afford to attend school while sacrificing a paying job,” Senator Norris said.  “This promotes the best of both worlds for employers, employees and the economy of Tennessee."

The legislation is drafted so that wages or other compensation received by students will not impact eligibility for state need-based financial assistance or grants. 

Senator Norris and his staff consulted with employers in Tennessee and other southern states, as well as overseas, to study what are referred to as "cooperative education” programs. Students are paid to learn while applying what they learn at work for credit toward a degree. 

“This is not unlike the old apprentice programs of generations past, where students get a practical utilization of what they’re learning from the books,” Senator Norris said.  “But we’re adding a modern higher education component to address what Tennessee employers keep asking for:  job candidates with the requisite skills needed in today’s technologically-advanced workplace.”

Jason Bates, administration manager of Toyota’s Bodine facility in Jackson, stated that industry continually faces the need for qualified workers.

“Despite today’s challenging economic environment, manufacturing facilities all across our state struggle to fill positions with individuals educated in advanced manufacturing,” Mr. Bates said.  “Support for education in manufacturing technology is critical for Tennessee’s growth.”

The legislation specifically directs several state entities to work together in both establishing and carrying out the initiative. 

"Oftentimes, there is a communications gap between educators and economic developers. LEAP will help coordinate job training between the Department of Labor and Workforce Development and the Department of Economic and Community Development with higher education,” Senator Norris said.  “This will allow us to educate and employ the skilled workers that prospective employers actually need right now."

Dr. Richard Rhoda, executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, agreed.

“This program recognizes that an important outcome of a student's education is job opportunity,” Dr. Rhoda said.  “Having employers work closely with state agencies creates increased collaboration and focus across the board, giving students the opportunity to attain credentials.”  

The bill is sponsored by House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick (R-Chattanooga) in the House of Representatives. 

Senator Norris represents the 32nd Senate District in Shelby and Tipton Counties.


3 UTC Faculty Members Receive Alumni Association Awards

Three faculty members were honored this month with awards at the UT Alumni Association Board of Governors Awards Dinner. Dr. Mohammad Ahmadi, the Guerry professor of Management, and Dr. Joseph Jordan, assistant professor in the Department of English, received the association’s Outstanding Teacher Awards.  Nicole Brown, academic advisor and professor in the Communication ... (click for more)

GPS Faculty And Admin Present At National Conference

Five teachers and administrators from Girls Preparatory School presented skills for the 21st century – empathy, flexibility, risk-taking, and reflection – at the National Coalition of Girls Schools’ annual conference in Washington, D.C. in June. Not content to offer their expertise to others, they also attended sessions that offered professional development and ideas to bring back ... (click for more)

County Commission May Amend Resolution Dealing With 501(c)(3)s; Humane Society Says It Won't Comply

The County Commission may amend a resolution it passed that would put a member of the commission on the board of the 501(c)(3)s that receive over 25 percent of their funding from the county. It would also require the agencies to follow county purchasing, travel and expense policies. After the measure was passed 6-3, the county got a letter from the Humane Education Society ... (click for more)

Walker County Taking Out Another Loan To Deal With Debts Left By Bebe Heiskell Administration

Walker County officials said they are having to take out another loan to deal with debts left by the Bebe Heiskell administration. Commissioner Shannon Whitfield has called a special meeting for Thursday at 2 p.m. at the commissioner's office in Lafayette. The agenda includes a $4 million tax anticipation note from Lafayette Bank, which stepped in to help the new administration ... (click for more)

CPS Should Have A Manned 24/7 Presence In Every County

This week something became abundantly clear to me. The Department of Child Protective Services in the state of Tennessee, or at least in Hamilton County, are asleep at the wheel.   Early yesterday afternoon local news stations broke the news: "Animals Removed from Soddy Daisy Home."  What the news station either didn't know, or didn't report, was that the children of ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Heroes Gather On July 14

Oliver North, whose journey as American patriot has not been an easy one, never lost hope. He once admitted he lied to Congress under oath, was found guilty of three felony counts after he followed the direct orders of his superiors, and then endured the wrath of the ignorant before the ACLU – of all sources – had the charges vacated. The former Lt. Colonel in the Marine Corps ... (click for more)