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Rutherford Works Facilitates Field Trips for National Skilled Trades Day

September 18, 2017

Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce

Rutherford Works, the economic and workforce development arm of the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce, celebrated National Skilled Trades Day with industry tours throughout September 10 – 15, 2017. Nearly 60 Rutherford County students gained first-hand knowledge of the construction field with field trips across the county.

Trisha Murphy, Education & Workforce Development Coordinator at the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce, spoke on the importance of trades exposure, saying, “The construction industry is projected to grow 22% by 2022, making it one of Rutherford County’s fastest growing high demand, high wage industry sectors. It is important for students to see construction and the trades as a viable option for employment.”

Host sites included Ole South Construction’s Evergreen Farms residential development, the new Rutherford County Judicial Center Building with Bell Construction, and School of Concrete & Construction at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU).

“170 folks were working at the Judicial Center during our tour, many of whom are tradesmen earning more than $100,000 annually and over the age of 50. While the need for trades is growing, many of the current workforce is entering retirement,” said Murphy.

Roger Case, Chief Operating Officer at Ole South Construction, agreed, “There is truly a shortage of experienced workers in our field.  Whether it’s plumbing, electrical, heating and air, concrete or any trade, there is a need for experienced help.  The quicker we can get the young adults interested in our industry, the quicker we can resolve the shortage.”

At the MTSU School of Concrete & Construction, Dr. Heather Brown and others are committed to educating students and closing the skills gap. MTSU’s program, one of just four nationally, provides students with strong ties to industry, which open the door for internships and full-time careers.

Michael Shirley, Agriculture Engineering teacher at Riverdale High, said, “I welcomed the opportunity for my students to build a network of contacts within industry. There are so many opportunities within our community for students to earn a good living if they are willing to learn a skilled trade and work hard.”

Rutherford County Schools is dedicated to providing the future workforce with opportunities for career exploration and work-based learning. In fact, 12 seniors within the Architecture & Construction Pathway at Oakland High School are enrolled in a work-based learning course this fall, which allows students to apply classroom knowledge on-the-job.

For more information about career pathways and high-demand, high-wage sectors in Rutherford County, visit 

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