Inmates in several West Tennessee correctional facilities now have skills for a productive life outside of prison, thanks in part to the UT Center for Industrial Services (CIS) and its Tennessee Manufacturing Extension Partnership (TMEP) organization
The Skills for Success – Manufacturing program was made available in Tennessee by the TMEP in January 2023 to facilitate training for people seeking employment in Tennessee’s manufacturing sector. The deployment of this Skills for Success program for justice-involved participants is funded through a grant made available through Governor Bill Lee’s Reentry Act of 2021. The act created the Office of Reentry under the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development and its aim is to help those serving time in jail to lead productive lives once they are released.
The Office of Reentry partnered with the Northwest Tennessee Workforce Board, the Southwest Tennessee Workforce Agency and CIS to provide skills training in the Hardin County jail. In October 2022, the Northwest Tennessee Workforce Board contacted West Tennessee Solutions Consultant Andre Temple to provide 1,000 safety glasses for high school students participating in area manufacturing day events. As a result of this engagement, when they found out that they had funds to provide training to participants in the jails, they reached back out to Temple to ask if CIS could help deliver this type of training.
The 10-day manufacturing training boot camp for entry-level workers included classes on workplace skills, math for manufacturing, quality tools and techniques and a 10-hour Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) safety in general industry class. At the completion of the training, participants received a certificate from CIS, an OSHA 10-hour General Industry card and they are set up for an interview with a local manufacturing facility.
The delivery of the Skills for Success training in Hardin County is actually the first of six sets of training in additional jail facilities across West Tennessee including Dyer, Obion, Madison and Henry Counties. Additional facilities in both West and East Tennessee counties are in the process of being scheduled for delivery in 2023.
Hardin County Jail Administrator Ryan Burlesci said this program is a major step for those who earn a certificate as well as a benefit for the participants, their families and the entire community.
CIS Health and Safety Consultant Chuck Gluck said delivering the OSHA 10 training to this set of participants was the most personally meaningful work he has performed during his 10 years with CIS.