Collaboration Offers Workforce Solution

A partnership between Pellissippi State Community College and the Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI) led to a new registered apprenticeship program at a Tennessee company.

Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville has supported apprenticeship programs in the region for years, but this is the first time the college has served as an apprenticeship sponsor, said Todd Evans, director of workforce solutions at Pellissippi State.

The company is Newell Brands of Maryville, Tenn., which is expanding its tool and die department. Newell selected two of its current employees to serve as tool and die apprentices.

Pellissippi State began laying the groundwork for the apprenticeship more than a year ago. For help in navigating the apprenticeship process, Pellissippi State collaborated with an organization with extensive apprenticeship experience, the Robert C. Byrd Institute.

RCBI’s Apprenticeship Works program is supported by an American Apprenticeship Initiative grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. Apprenticeship Works provides companies and colleges with the tools they need to launch apprenticeships in 20 manufacturing occupations.

Lucinda Curry, director of Apprenticeship Works, consulted with Evans about registered apprenticeships and participated in outreach events with manufacturers. Together they dispelled misconceptions about apprenticeships and emphasized the many benefits of a registered apprenticeship program.

The college and RCBI also collaborated to provide the online related training component at the company site through Tooling U-SME.

“We couldn’t have done it as quickly as we did without RCBI,” Evans said. “Once Newell decided they wanted to do it, we were able to get the program up and running in 30 days.”

A second company in the region is expected to launch its apprenticeship program in the next few weeks, Evans said.

Apprenticeship Works now has industry partners in 18 states. When possible, the AW team partners with the local community colleges. Collaborations like the one with Pellissippi State are great for manufacturers, Curry said.

“Manufacturers and their apprentices benefit when organizations work together to provide them with all the tools they need for an apprenticeship program,” she said.

For information on partnering with Apprenticeship Works, contact Curry at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . For information about the workforce efforts at Pellissippi State contact Evans at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .