Tennessee Valley Corridor receives $500,000 grant
From Staff Reports

   KNOXVILLE -- Regional higher education, government, and business leaders on Tuesday formally announced a new $500,000 federal grant from the Department of Labor aimed to aid workforce development in the Tennessee Valley Corridor, a region that includes Southwest Virginia, Northeast Tennessee, and Northern Alabama.
   Community leaders and lawmakers met at Pellissippi State Technical Community College as members of an organization titled WAMP (Workforce Aging Management Program) designed to ensure that an aging and soon retiring workforce will be replenished and to guarantee that workforce technology remains updated.
   "The Tennessee Valley Corridor has become one of the fastest growing regions in the world for new technology investment and job creation," said Rep. Zach Wamp (R-3rd), coordinator of the project. "But with an aging and soon-to-be-retiring technically skilled workforce, many of our most important federal faclities and several of our most valuable high-tech business and manufacturing sectors could be at risk."
   Gerald Boyd, manager of the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge Operations, estimated that approximately 15 percent, or 1,500 of DOE and its prime contractors' employees are currently eligible to retire, and approximately 30 percent, or 3,000 workers, will be able to retire in five years.
   "This is obviously an important issue for us as we look ahead," Boyd said. "Oak Ridge is recognized worldwide as a leader in technology, and in order to maintain and to even exceed this reputation, we must employ the highest skilled workers in the high-tech industry."
   WAMP will coordinate the efforts of 18 community colleges and seven technology centers to train future technology workforce; to enhance business and industry recruitment, and to serve as a catalyst for technology transfer.