Performance and hard work pays off!

The Tennessee Department of Human services recently selected Workforce Essentials’ proposal toSuccess deliver Families First services in Middle and West Tennessee.  The procurement process saw competition from local and national workforce agencies.  Congratulations to Natalie McLimore and the entire WorkFirst Team!  Natalie’s outstanding leadership as well as her awesome grant writing skills garnered high scores from the review team.  We also know that none of this would be possible without the experienced and professional staff (you!) that actually delivers services to our customers and their families in the 2Gen model!

The three year contract begins January 1, 2018.  Not only will be delivering services in our current districts (5 & 7), we also applied for one other area and were selected to deliver services in District 6 which covers Davidson County – Nashville!  Competing against multiple national companies, the award is quite the recognition for Workforce Essentials!  I’m proud of the hard work that we have done and will continue to do to help our Families First customers.

Congratulations to the other contractors that were awarded Districts in the procurement.


Marla W. Rye, President

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The American Job Center partners to assist transitioning soldiers to obtain careers in advanced manufacturing

FullSizeRenderFT. CAMPBELL, Kent. – LIFT – Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow, a Manufacturing USA national innovation institute — in partnership with the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS), Amatrol, Gene Haas Foundation and the American Job Center in Clarksville — today announced the launch of “Operation Next” – a new model for equipping separating military personnel with the skills and credentials needed for the most in-demand advanced manufacturing civilian careers in the country.

This new national model provides high level technical training to separating soldiers while they are still on active duty, moving them from deployment to career in the shortest time possible and connecting them to some of the more than half-million open jobs in precision machining and industrial technology.  

Operation Next brings market leaders in manufacturing training together in a full-service online learning platform that soldiers can access before leaving the service, accelerating their transition into civilian manufacturing careers. The hybrid training program combines self-directed virtual learning with hands-on lab work and gives soldiers foundational knowledge, practical real-world skills, and national industry credentials with immediate value in the labor market. 

“As a public-private partnership with the Department of Defense, Office of Naval Research and many outstanding American companies, our Institute members recognize the importance of U.S. leadership in advanced manufacturing critical to ensuring the strength of our defense industrial base,” said Larry Brown, executive director, LIFT.  

 “We recognize the strength and the aptitude of the men and women who serve our country and believe there is no better way to honor them than to provide them with a fast-track path to great careers in advanced manufacturing,” said Emily DeRocco, education and workforce development director, LIFT. “It is our intention to push out resumes of credentialed soldiers to manufacturers across the country engaged in Manufacturing USA.”

Operation Next will launch as a pilot program at Fort Campbell—home of the 101st Airborne Division—and transition 101 soldiers to open jobs in machining and industrial technology. Local partners include Workforce Essentials that will manage operations, and Tennessee College of Applied Technology— where soldiers will complete lab work.  

“These separating soldiers are exactly the right candidates to benefit from this type of 21st century learning model,” said Paul Perkins, CEO, Amatrol, the virtual learning provider for Operation Next. “The competency-based structure of the learning enables soldiers to get credit for what they already know, focuses on the hands-on technical skills they need, and expedites their transition into careers.” 

Upon completion of the program, participants earn national industry credentials from the National Institute for Metalworking Skills for critical functions in CNC (Computer Numerical Control) Machining and Industrial Technology.  “With these civilian credentials, soldiers will have a clear path to a long-term career in any sector of manufacturing,” said Montez King, Interim Executive Director, NIMS.  Employment in Machining and Industrial Technology Maintenance have grown by over 811,000 workers – or 19 percent – since 2010.

“Participants will not be completing this training in a bubble,” said Marla Rye, President, Workforce Essentials, the regional program manager for Operation Next.  “The program connects these separating soldiers to the real-world of work through plant tours, job-shadows offered by partnering employers and other hands-on experiences.” 

LIFT is announcing Operation Next in conjunction with the Hiring Our Heroes Transition Summit at Fort Campbell, designed to connect employers and industry with talented veterans, service members, and military spouses.  

Enrollment for the Operation Next pilot at Fort Campbell will begin in Summer, 2017.

For more information, visit


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Workforce Essentials visits Jacksonville for SETA Conference

SETA 2Board members and staff of Workforce Essentials recently attended the Southeastern Employment & Training Association (SETA) Spring Conference in Jacksonville, Florida.  The conference highlighted innovative and best practices associated with the delivery and administration of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.  Highlighting the four-day conference was John Clement and Charlie Koon, as they presented on the “101 Jobs for the 101st” program. They engaged audience members with an on-line polling survey during the presentation; as well as communicated the mission of the Veteran focused program that helps train and connect transitioning soldiers and their spouses to meaningful employment in the middle Tennessee region.

The mission of the Southeastern Employment & Training Association is to provide professional opportunities for all workforce development partners.  We were excited to have board members from Workforce Essentials, the North Tennessee Workforce Board, and even county mayors/executives attend with us!  Their leadership and support provide me with valuable resources to establish and deliver workforce development initiatives in LWDA 8!  I am thankful for their guidance and oversight.

Photo l-r  John Alexander, Charlie Koon, Khandra Smalley, John Clement, Marla Rye, Marilyn Bristol, Kerry Pruitt, Rick Daugherty. Not pictured: Howard Bradley and Anthony Holt


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Clarksville AJC featured on Workforce GPS

46aed689-649d-4e08-95a4-5d5d814823b6Training and technical assistance is vitally important as we implement the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.  The U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration has development a portal of resources available for state and local workforce agencies to utilize called WorkforceGPS.   (

An innovative approach to training, Workforce GPS features WIOA Wednesday which is an interactive webinar that features a specific WIOA topic. The Clarksville American Job Center (AJC) was selected to present on March 1st to a national audience!

The topic for discussion was Implementing Comprehensive, Affiliate, and Co-location Requirements Uder WIOA.


ee8486bf-af6a-47cd-8518-247768aa2147This webinar highlighted key Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) provisions for operating comprehensive, affiliate, and specialized sites in the American Job Center network.  It also discussed the new co-location requirements contained in WIOA.  Presenters shared State and local experiences on the approaches and strategies they are using to overcome barriers and embrace opportunities for building integrated service delivery models to effectively serve area job seekers and employers.

The awesome team from Tennessee consisted of Natalie McLimore and John Alexander.  I had the privilege of being in their company to talk about the functional alignment of our AJC system.  I may be a little bias, but the audience feedback confirmed that our centers are models of excellence!  You can download our presentation on

Additional Moderators and Presenters included:

Charlotte Harris, Workforce Analyst, Policy Unit, Office of Workforce Investment, U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration

Winston Tompoe, Director, Office of State Systems, U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration, Region 3

Larry Burns, Re-employment Coordinator, Office of Unemployment, U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration

Howard Feldstein, Director, Arlington Employment Center

If you are not a member of WorkforceGPS, please sign up today.  The resources are invaluable, and the learning opportunities are immense. 

Marla Rye, President

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First Adult Education Graduation Held for Davidson County


I’m not sure how you spent your evening this past Friday, but I must share that mine was simply incredible!  My evening was exceptional, because I was afforded the opportunity to witness the first graduating adult education class from Davidson County!  This was the first official graduation since becoming a contractor with the State.

The ceremony, entitled ‘The Best is Yet to Come’, was held at Trevecca Nazarene University located in Nashville. District Director Christina Drones and Assistant District Directors Kathryn Bonecutter and Adam Sones were on hand along with Davidson County instructors and staff.  After the official Pomp and Circumstance, fellow student Jassie Ford was encouraged by her classmates as she sang the National Anthem.  Master of Ceremonies Adam Sones welcomed the graduates, and photos of all the graduates were displayed on two large screens.  Director of Program Outreach for the TN Division of Adult Education Dee Johnson gave the commencement address before the presentation of graduates. There were a total of 45 graduates walking the line.

I had a chance to visit with the graduates before the ceremony began. The soon-to-be graduates were filled with excitement, pride, and a sense of accomplishment as their realization of receiving a diploma was about to come to fruition.  Families and loved ones filled the auditorium anxiously waiting for the ceremony to begin.  In speaking with family members, I heard stories of sacrifice and the many challenges that were overcome.  I believe the loved ones were just as excited as the actual graduates about to take the stage.  You’ve heard the quote, “It takes a village”… It truly does.  And so when these graduates finally took the stage, it sincerely affected more than just the students.  It touched the moms and dads, the husbands and wives, the sons and daughters, the instructors and staff, and myself.  Think back to your high school graduation and remember how proud you were at that time.  For most of these graduates, they were so scared to take that first step.  Our staff has helped these individuals to become excited about learning, and they truly felt cared for as a student.  They were assured that they could take on this personal accomplishment and could truly understand that “The Best is Yet to Come’!

And when I thought the evening could not get any better, we were all surprised by a marriage proposal to one of the graduates. She said YES!

Marketing Specialist Kim Robertson captured photos from the event, and I am sharing a few of those below.  Take a moment to visit our Face Book page to view all the graduates and the entire ceremony at

I encourage you to attend one of our upcoming graduations; it’s a great way to warm your soul!  I’m certainly proud of these first AE graduates, and I’m equally proud of our AE Team in District 5.

Keep up the great work of changing lives one diploma at a time!


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