Opinion

Help wanted: Building the skilled trades pipeline for jobs


Scott Laska, operations manager at auto parts manufacturer SL Tennessee, shows a fully assembled lamp to Knox County STEM teachers. SL Tennessee’s lamps are placed on vehicles at a General Motors plant within 72 hours after assembly.
Hardin Valley Academy STEM teacher Rudy Furman has a message for East Tennessee high school students looking for an alternative to college.

“Manufacturing jobs are out there locally, but they require training,” said Furman, who teaches physics and chemistry. “Seek out areas you would like to work in and then find a training program that will get you there.”

Furman, along with 23 other teachers from 10 Knox County schools, recently toured auto parts manufacturer SL Tennessee in Anderson County and participated in a panel discussion with business, industry, and technical college leaders.

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Maybe there are some other options out there

While there was much discussion during Monday night’s Anderson County Operations Committee meeting concerning a new home for the Anderson County Senior Center, it was mostly just that — discussion.

A so called “research” of surrounding senior centers was presented, but comparing a city-funded center with a center under the guidance of the Older Americans Act is like comparing apples to a pile of rocks.

Any senior center not under that umbrella, actually.

I do believe a few shots were taken across the bow of The Courier News, but hey, our research is solid and it stands on its own.

I would like to, however, point out a couple or three things I learned Tuesday morning.

Last month I reported that only four county commissioners had visited the Senior Center on Edgewood Avenue. Commissioners Josh Anderson, Jerry White, Robert McKamey, and Robert Jameson.

I was wrong.

Sorta.

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The greatest decade awaits

While I may not be the first, let me be among the many to wish you a Happy New Year from the University of Tennessee!

It is such an honor to serve the great state of Tennessee. I’m incredibly proud of the accomplishments our team has made this past year. From providing more opportunities for students’ success to new platforms for research and discovery, to our impact in the lives of Tennesseans in every community across the state, it was an exciting and transformative 2019.

I am convinced, more so than ever, that there is no better time in the University of Tennessee’s history than now. As I look back on the last year, I am encouraged by all that has been accomplished and energized about what’s to come. The next decade will be the greatest in the history of the University of Tennessee. All that has come before has provided the foundation, and we have the team in place to make it so.

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A simple question: Should you quit?

We usually don’t want to just give up, or conclude we don’t have what it takes to go on.

I’ve thought about that some lately in trying to learn a difficult fiddle tune.

What have you thought about quitting? Smoking? Alcohol? Drugs? A toxic relationship?

There are so many good things in life that require so much work to make them happen.

Yet, when we stay with it there is eventual satisfaction. And, even if we don’t finish, we aren’t doing a bad thing for trying to do the good things.

There is a process of finishing a course and then retiring from the course.

We all retire, quit or are terminated. Kenny Rogers sang, “You have to know when to hold them and know when to fold them.” We all do. My dad worked over 30 years in underground coal mining and at the age of 55 he retired. He also quit.

He never had any interest in going back to work in the coal mine.

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