Vol State Event Focuses on Preparing People for Tech Jobs

Jazmin Grimm, Existing Industries manager with the Gallatin Economic Development Agency, moderated a panel discussion at Vol State.

A new report by the CBRE company puts Nashville at the national forefront of technology job growth. Business leaders and educators gathered at Volunteer State Community College recently to hear Facebook Community Development regional manager, Katie Comer, discuss how to prepare Tennesseans for those jobs. A large Facebook data center is under construction in Gallatin. It is expected to create many positions in both technology and support roles.

“You don’t have to live in Silicon Valley to work in technology,” Comer said. “Our data centers have a variety of high tech jobs available. And it’s more than just working with the data servers; it’s also heating and air conditioning specialists, electricians, and electrical engineers. A tech job isn’t just behind a computer.”

The CBRE report shows that Nashville has a small, but fast growing, tech job sector, increasing 36 percent over five years, the largest growth in the country for that time period. The Vol State Business and Technology Division partnered with the Gallatin Economic Development Agency for the “Let’s Talk Tech” event.

“The average age of students in our computer programs is 31 years-old,” said Vol State dean of Business and Technology, Andy White. “We have a lot of students who have been working in construction and the trades. They come to our classes at night to upskill.”

The speakers at the event included SERVPRO chief information officer, Jeff Fields. “I started at a two-year school. You have to be open to change and new things. That’s the key to working in technology.”

The presenters and attendees stressed that there are many paths into tech jobs, some much quicker than the usual two or four-year degree plan. “We partner with Vol State on a program called Go TECH that allows people to skill-up with computer certifications,” said Sandi Hoff with the Greater Nashville Technology Council. The IT Infrastructure Support Professional course focuses on computer fundamentals and infrastructure. It is free for selected applicants, thanks to a state of Tennessee grant.

Vol State is expanding academic offerings in Computer Information Technology this year. There are a wide range of certifications and degree programs, including a Cyber Defense concentration. Fall classes start August 23 both on-campus and online. Applications are being accepted now at www.volstate.edu.