published Monday, March 28th, 2011

An investment — and a challenge

It is exciting that Chattanooga State Community College has undertaken a $5 million project to get future workers ready for the big Wacker polysilicon production plant in Bradley County. The project, called the Wacker Institute, will provide fast-track degrees in areas of study such as chemical and mechanical technology.

In the words of Chattanooga State President James Catanzaro, the Germany-based company will need “a very sophisticated work force on board, ready, trained and fully functional” when it begins producing materials for the solar power industry.

But Catanzaro candidly pointed out that many local high school graduates may not be academically ready for the training and additional education that will equip them for rewarding jobs at places such as Wacker and Volkswagen.

For that matter, not all college graduates have applied themselves in such a way as to boost their chances of success, he said during a visit with the Times Free Press editorial board.

That is a challenge both to high schoolers and college students.

Chattanooga is poised for vast economic growth. But those who are most capable of benefiting from it will be those who prepare now by taking rigorous course work. It would be a shame not to take advantage of the professional opportunities that are sprouting in this area.

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