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.


Women Entrepreneur Symposium To Be Held Tuesday

The WE women entrepreneur symposium (formerly named Women At The Top Symposium or W.A.T.T.S) will be held on Tuesday, August 5, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Stratton Hall. Congressman Chuck Fleischmann, Honorary WE Chairperson, invites all women entrepreneurs to a symposium featuring Sloane Scott, a.k.a. the “Digital Diva” of FLO Thinkery, as the keynote speaker, ... (click for more)

UnifiEd Releases School Board Candidate Survey

With just over one week to go before election day, UnifiEd - described as "a community-led movement of parents, teachers, and citizens who want every student in Hamilton County to have the chance to attend great public schools" – has released initial results from its first-ever school board candidate survey. Following the announcements of the settlement of the lawsuit between ... (click for more)

House Approves Expansion Of Chattanooga Veterans Affairs Clinic

The House of Representatives passed legislation Wednesday to authorize funding for a new lease and expanded Veterans Affairs clinic in Chattanooga. This veterans’ package has been approved by the House and Senate Conference Committee.  Rep. Chuck Fleischmann said, “I am proud to announce the legislation passed this afternoon will fund a new lease for a multi-specialty ... (click for more)

Cleveland City Council To Hold Special Meeting On Naming New City Judge

The Cleveland City Council will hold a special called meeting next Monday to consider an interim appointment of a city judge. It will be at 11:45 a.m. at the City Council’s regular meeting place in the Cleveland Municipal Building, 190 Church Street, NE. The council will also establish the process for application for city judge. Longtime City Judge Bill Moss died July ... (click for more)

Thankful For Senators Alexander And Corker's Support Of The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Fleet - And Response (2)

America’s national security at home and abroad is important to all of us.  So it is very important to recognize and thank our leaders when they show strong support for our military. That’s why I am writing to thank Senators Alexander and Corker for their continued commitment to our great state, our nation, and especially to our military.  Their support ensures that ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Scottsboro’s Pat Trammell

I got a warm feeling Tuesday when it was announced Pat Trammell will be among those in the inaugural class of the Jackson County (Ala.) Sports Hall of Fame. When the august group is enshrined at Scottsboro’s Goose Pond Civic Center on Nov. 1, most folks won’t even know who Pat Trammell was but I knew all about him in my very first year as a fledgling sports writer back in 1967 and, ... (click for more)