Nov 04, 2013

Columbia State Awarded 2013 Workforce Innovation Award

Dr. Jamet Smith receiving award

Photo Caption: Pictured left to right: Governor Bill Haslam; Dr. Janet F. Smith, Columbia State president; Jacky Akbari, board chair for the Council on Workforce Innovation; and Harry Wilson, chair of the Workforce Innovation project.

(COLUMBIA, Tenn. - Nov. 4, 2013) - - - Selected for its unique initiatives that impact the future of workforce development, Columbia State Community College was awarded a 2013 Workforce Innovation Award. President Janet F. Smith accepted the award at the "Conversation with Governor Bill Haslam" and Workforce Innovation Project kickoff event that took place Sept. 30.

"Columbia Sate is a model for collaborating with businesses and industries to develop programs to meet both the workforce and student needs," said Jacky Akbari, board chair for the Council on Workforce Innovation. "It is the outstanding partnerships that they have developed and the outcomes from those partnerships that are recognized by this Workforce Innovation Award."

The award was given by The Council on Workforce Innovation in Tennessee and highlighted public and private partnerships that exist at Columbia State in the areas of film crew technology and healthcare programs, as well as the emergency medical services/paramedic and advanced integrated industrial technology programs that are offered at the Northfield Workforce Development and Conference Center.

In response to the economic climate in Middle Tennessee, Columbia State has renewed its workforce development focus in recent years to center on healthcare, manufacturing, information technology and the entertainment industry. Columbia State partners with community leaders, regional employers and school districts to provide educational programs and training activities that have been responsive to the needs of existing and future employers.

As a result of these partnerships, programs and initiatives have been put into place to assist with industrial recruitment, develop dual enrollment for high school students, create customized training for area employers, and provide specific services for dislocated workers.

"With the influx of jobs that have come to Tennessee in the past few years, it's been found that employers are having a hard time finding qualified, skilled workers to fill jobs," Smith said. "By collaborating with different industry sectors, Columbia State is able to provide high quality educational opportunities to supply and improve the ever-changing workforce needs of Middle Tennessee employers."

Some highlights of Columbia State accomplishments, initiatives and programs include:

• Establishing a career ladder for nurses who want to advance their credentials. Through expressed need, Columbia State created the successful LPN to RN bridge program. In response to the Institute of Medicine's goal to increase the number of advanced degree nurses, Columbia State also partnered with Middle Tennessee State University to establish an RN to BSN articulation agreement, allowing RNs to complete a third year of course work at Columbia State at the Columbia State tuition rate before transferring to MTSU to take online courses to complete their upper division nursing requirements in order to earn a bachelor of science in nursing degree.
• Partnering with the Department of Labor in response to the needs of un- and under-employed workers, as well as Trade Adjustment Assistance displaced workers. As a result, the new RxTN grant offers short-term training for these individuals to earn phlebotomy, EKG/ECG technician and certified clinical medical assistant credentials. Through the grant, Columbia State has committed to enrolling 240 new care providers. The RxTN grant also supports 82 new degree completers through implementation of a new associate of applied science degree program in medical informatics, as well as growth of the health science A.A.S. and LPN to RN transition programs.
• Identifying the needs of the manufacturing sector and the Region 10 Workforce Investment Area which resulted in the creation of the advanced integrated industrial technology program. AiiT will produce the much needed technically trained employees through a curriculum that requires problem solving and advanced applications that will teach the integrated mechanical, electrical, pneumatic, hydraulic and robotic skills necessary for manufacturing employees.
• Working alongside Region 10 to provide educational programming and training opportunities at the NWDCC, including EMT - Paramedic and AiiT programs. The collaboration has established the center as a showplace for public and private partnership, and Columbia State's two career programs have become a centerpiece for the once empty General Motors facility that now includes career services, conference services, an incubator program and a leased call center operation.
• Partnering with the production team of the popular television show "Nashville" to provide employment opportunities to students of Columbia State's film crew technology program, which has been a large factor in doubling the program's enrollment this fall. The program was established to meet the workforce needs in a specialized area, and if funded, a proposed grant would add state-of-the-art camera equipment not currently available to Tennessee film crew techs and will add a new skill set for increased employability in the industry.

"I am proud to have accepted this award on behalf of the college," Smith said. "It represents the hard work and dedication put forth by our faculty and staff who have collaborated with industry and sector leaders to produce and provide quality educational programs that will result in a skilled, competent workforce."

The award was presented by Governor Haslam at a luncheon representing Tennessee higher education and business. Other winners included Fifth Third Bank and Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Tennessee.

Dr Janet Smith Columbia State Award
Photo Caption: Pictured left to right: Governor Bill Haslam; Dr. Janet F. Smith, Columbia State president; Jacky Akbari, board chair for the Council on Workforce Innovation; and Harry Wilson, chair of the Workforce Innovation project.

Columbia State is a two-year college, serving a nine-county area in southern Middle Tennessee with locations in Columbia, Franklin, Lawrenceburg, Lewisburg and Clifton. As Tennessee's first community college, Columbia State is committed to increasing access and enhancing diversity at all five campuses. Columbia State is a member of the Tennessee Board of Regents, the sixth largest higher education system in the nation. For more information, please visit