Thomas Nelson works to help workers, employers

svaughan@vagazette.com

Michelle Manfred had a lot to say about what Thomas Nelson Community College does in workforce training during her stint as the guest speaker at the Williamsburg Economic Development Authority's Business Roundtable Tuesday.

That's because TNCC does quite a lot.

Among the programs the community college handles that have a direct impact on greater Williamsburg, the Prepare-Care-Share customer service and hospitality training is among the best known. New sessions begin March 14.

"If you have employees who deal with the public in retail or food service or hospitality, you should have them take the Prepare-Care-Share training," Manfred told a group of area business people gathered at Sal's Ristorante Italiano on Capital Landing Road. "Marketing only gets visitors to come here once. It's service that keeps them coming back."

The program seeks to give customer service personnel knowledge of the area's attractions and history which they can pass on to visitors.

Another area where TNCC works with the local community is the EMPLOY (Empowering Myself to Provide Long-term solutions to Overcome Yesterday's barriers to self-sufficiency) program, which Chris Powell, of the city's department of human service explained, is a work component for people who receive Temporary Aid to Need Families assistance.

TANF provides temporary financial assistance for pregnant women and families with one or more dependent children by helping pay for food, shelter, utilities and other non-medical expenses.

"Since 1998 there has been a work component to TANF. Recipients must either be working, looking for work or in a work training program," Powell said. "This program meets TANF requirements."

It's an intensive, screened class and community-based job readiness training program, 160 hours over four weeks.

"People who complete the program can usually find a job within about two months," Powell said. "Ending their TANF case."

TNCC is among numerous agencies and organizations that helps with the program.

Other TNCC job training programs include those to fill specific needs.

"The Marine Electrician program has a 93 percent job placement rate. And two years later, 89 percent of those people are still working at that job or have even been promoted," Manfred said.

Another program, Manfred was particularly proud of because "Thomas Nelson is the only college doing this in our area," was the Advanced Manufacturing Center, which teaches welding and machining and other in demand skills that lead to "good, high-paying jobs."

Thomas Nelson also has programs to support building and construction trades, motorcycle and truck driving training and continuing education for workers already employed to keep their skills up to date.

In addition, TNCC operates Southeast Virginia Rapid Response, which swings in to action in case of layoffs and closures.

"When companies are down-sizing or right-sizing or going out of business, we can come in and help to alleviate the impact on that workforce and help people find other jobs," Manfred said.

Vaughan can be reached at (757)345-2343

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