Department of Labor Approves Machinist Apprenticeship

The Greater Memphis Medical Device Council (GMMDC) is proud to announce the approval of the GMMDC Machinist Apprenticeship through the Department of Labor (DOL). As a Machinist Apprentice, students become proficient with:

  • Reading blueprints (GD&T), sketches or CAD/CAM files
  • Understanding the fundamentals of machining different metals
  • Operating and monitoring manual equipment and CNC machinery
  • Shaping metal into machined parts that match product specifications
  • Performing required job functions in compliance with Good Manufacturing Practices as defined by the company’s Quality Management System

“Our mission at the GMMDC is to create a pipeline of skilled employees through specialized vocational classes for medical device manufacturers and their associated vendors,” said Roy Smith, executive director.

“The GMMDC also counsels parents, students and teachers to help them better understand the great benefits of a career in the medical device industry,” said Smith. “While still in high school, students can use the Tennessee Promise grant and dual enrollment classes to complete a diploma and then go directly into a job or an apprenticeship with no college debt.”

To find out more about joining the GMMDC or the GMMDC Machinist Apprenticeship, contact Roy Smith, Executive Director, at (901) 490-2578 or email

Memphis Looks to Medical Manufacturing to Cut Poverty

Poverty rates have dropped in Memphis, Tennessee, since the start of the decade, but it’s still one of the poorest large urban areas in the U.S. With 18.4 percent of its 1.3 million residents taking home annual incomes below the federal poverty threshold, it’s second only to Tucson, Arizona, when it comes to lacking opportunity for a living wage.

One local industry could help: medical device manufacturing. And the city was just awarded nearly $6 million from the U.S. Department of Labor to help fortify the system of community colleges, manufacturers and workforce organizations pulling talent from Memphis’ poorest communities to prep them for this booming sector.

Read The Full Article HERE.

New TCAT Campus to Address Workforce Development

GMMDC’s and TCAT’s ultimate goal is for existing Memphis-area companies to keep their production here.

Smith was a member of a task force that met for more than two years in Bartlett to discuss solutions for local workforce development.

“We need to home-grow talent,” said Bartlett Mayor A. Keith McDonald in a video presentation to the chamber group. “It’s an important step for us to do that, putting it back in the high schools, so we have to have an education process that will put our young people in an opportunity to learn those skills. A number of adults are underemployed, so they can come back to school, learn a technical skill like this, and be able to go to work where they start at $50,000 per year.”

Read The Full Article HERE.

Norris praises Drive to 55 Capacity Fund Grant for TCAT Memphis

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) hailed the grant as a giant step forward.

“Shelby County is home to more medical device manufacturers and suppliers than almost any county in the United States. The medical device industry is Tennessee’s largest exporter, responsible for 17,000 local jobs. It contributes $2.6 billion to the economy and some $46 million in annual revenues to state and local governments.

“It is incumbent on us to help ensure that the medical device industry remains a vital part of Tennessee’s economy. A ready, skilled workforce is essential, and this grant is significant,” said Norris.

TCAT Memphis, under the direction of Roland Raynor and his team, working with the City of Bartlett and the Haas Foundation, will utilize the $4 million grant to create a new, satellite campus supporting a new medical device institute.

“This grant will enable students to pursue careers in advanced manufacturing with specific training in the medical device industry. As far as workforce development and education go, this is a giant step forward on West Tennessee’s pathway to prosperity.”


The Commercial Appeal: TCAT Memphis nets $4 million to advance Drive to 55

The Memphis campus of the Tennessee College of Applied Technology is adding a medical device institute with a $4 million grant announced Wednesday from Gov. Bill Haslam's office.

Haslam distributed 10 grants across the state worth a total of $24.3 million, aiming to aid colleges in addressing the growing capacity thanks to his Drive to 55 initiative that aims to raise the number of Tennessee residents with some sort of college degree to 55 percent.

TCAT Memphis Assistant Director Nathan Garrett said the money will be paired with a $1 million grant from the Gene Haas Foundation to create the Gene Haas Medical Device Institute.

TCAT last month opened a medical device training facility at Bartlett High School, where students can take dual enrollment classes to learn the technology before they graduate high school.

"That was the first step and now here’s the second step," Garrett said of the planned institute, which will also be in the Bartlett area.

According to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, the institute will train approximately 240 students annually in three programs associated with the medical device industry, and aims to graduate 1,600 students by 2025.

Source: The Commercial Appeal

Haslam Announces Drive to 55 Capacity Fund Grants

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced the recipients of the Drive to 55 Capacity Fund, an initiative designed to support colleges and universities as enrollment increases since the launch of Tennessee Promise.

“Tennessee has seen unprecedented numbers of students enrolling in college for the first time. As Tennessee Promise has made college a reality for so many of our students, we are committed to providing our institutions with the resources to support them,” Haslam said. “The Drive to 55 Capacity Fund assists our campuses in getting these students to and through college so we can continue to close the skills gap in Tennessee’s workforce.”

The fund awarded a total of $24.3 million to ten colleges and universities. The projects funded include a new TCAT training facility in Anderson County through the Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) Knoxville, an advanced robotics training facility for Motlow State Community College, and an expansion of the nursing program at Dyersburg State Community College.

First-time freshman enrollment at Tennessee’s colleges and universities grew by 10 percent in 2015, including a 25 percent increase at community colleges and a 20 percent increase at TCATs. Tennessee also saw a historic year-over-year growth in the state’s college-going rate in 2015, increasing 4.6 percentage points in just one year. 

“As we have expanded access to higher education through the Drive to 55, it is crucial that we ensure colleges and universities have the resources to prepare students for the workforce,” Mike Krause, executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, said. “The process of awarding these funds was very competitive and each funded program will provide opportunity and growth to students across our state.”

A total of 44 proposals were submitted, requesting a combined $120.9 million for construction or renovation or for program expansion. All projects seeking funding were required to demonstrate need for building capacity to respond to student enrollment and statewide workforce demands.

Proposals were reviewed by a team of readers from across state government, including the Department of Economic and Community Development, the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, the Tennessee Board of Regents, and the University of Tennessee system. Based on reader scores and final approval from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, projects were selected for funding. -

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GMMDC Partners with GMACW on America's Promise Grant

Through a partnership with the GMMDC, the Greater Memphis Alliance for a Competitive Workforce (GMACW) will lead a strategic partnership of manufacturing industry leaders, training providers and workforce agencies to provide education, training, support services, and job placement assistance to more than 1,000 adults  to meet the highly skilled needs for in-demand jobs in the local medical device manufacturing sector. 

The MOVE-HIRE (Medical device Occupations Value Education and Help In the Regional Economy) project will target low-income and under-represented individuals. 

The America’s Promise grant competition is for tuition-free education and training programs for unemployed or underemployed adults, and up to 20% of the grant funds can be used for training incumbent workers. 

The MOVE-HIRE application addresses the lack of skilled manufacturing workers in the Memphis metropolitan statistical area. 

As part of the grant process, GMACW referenced GMMDC data that shows that the lack of skilled manufacturing workers is impacting industry productivity and growth as well as the region's ability to attract new manufacturing. 

As part of the requirement for the America’s Promise grant, GMACW worked with the GMMDC and other industry and  education leaders to create career pathways in advanced manufacturing for participants to advance their training and education to secure future, higher-paying jobs and careers in fields that are currently occupied by H-1B visa workers. 

Other partners in the application include the Greater Memphis Chamber, the Bartlett Area Chamber of Commerce, the Workforce Investment Network, the University of Memphis, Arkansas State University Mid-South, SouthwestTennessee Community College, Tennessee College of Applied Technology, William R. Moore College of Technology, Memphis Bioworks Foundation, and Workbay LLC.

Bartlett High School Gets Medical Device Shop Grant

With support from the GMMDC, the city of Bartlett and TCAT, Bartlett High School is on its way to developing a new cutting edge medical device shop to develop students for post-secondary opportunities. 

The program was made possible thanks to a more than $200,000 grant  from TCAT that help provide new machinery, shop updates and training to instructors in order to develop a medical device program that will give students a real experience of working in the industry. 

"The goal is to provide juniors and seniors at Bartlett High School experience in a 21st-century medical device shop," said Nathan Garrett, TCAT director of workforce innovation. "Through this program, they will get to see how the industry operates. We believe this program will be a significant feeder program into post-secondary programs."

Garrett said the city of Bartlett made significant contributions to make the program possible in Bartlett. 

The new and improved shop is scheduled to open for students October 17. 

Apprenticeship Working Group

For the past few months, a dedicated group of individuals from across the Memphis Medical Device spectrum have worked together to create something truly unique.  

Representatives from Wright Medical, Microport, Smith and Nephew, Odyssey, Titan, and Onyx have worked to define the skills needed by the future employees of an industry that is crucial to the economic health of the Greater Memphis Area.

Coming together for a few hours each week, they have helped to develop the structure of an Apprenticeship program that will develop the skilled machinists that will produce all variety ofOrthopaedic and Spinal implants and instruments.

What makes this group so unique is that their companies are competitors in the marketplace but are collaborating together to address a critical shortage of skilled employees needed to produce products that are in high demand.

Using an Apprenticeship structure created by NIMS, the National Institute of Metalworking Standards, this Apprenticeship Working Group has defined the Entry Level Skills needed to enter the GMMDC Apprenticeship Program and has reviewed and approved the NIMS skillsets for the entire Apprenticeship program.  They have also defined a set of skills that go beyond the NIMS standards that include state of the art advanced technologies that need to be mastered to produce the complex products required by the industry.

In addition to the skills needed within the Apprenticeship program, the Working Group also developed processes for individuals to apply for entry into the program, and also how individuals accepted into the program would be matched up with GMMDC member companies needing Apprentices.

The work was done without compromising any intellectual property of the member companies and helped create a healthy respect for the professionalism that exists within these companies that compete in the market but have worked together to address a common need.

Members of the GMMDC Apprenticeship Working Group are:

  • Jerry West – Wright Medical
  • Joel Robinson – Microport
  • Billy Hogue – Smith and Nephew
  • Joey Greenwell – Smith and Nephew
  • Patrick Gilmore – Onyx Medical
  • David Nelms – Odyssey Medical
  • Randy Ransdell – Odyssey Medical
  • Robert Kenyon – Titan Medical
  • Roy Smith – GMMDC Executive Director

GMMDC Executive Director Roy Smith continues to get the word out on Medical Device Industry training needs

GMMDC executive director Roy Smith has spent the last few weeks furiously getting the word out on the training needs of GMMDC members. 

Smith said he used the opportunity to meet with several local vocational institutions along with an appearance on WKNO's Behind the Headlines, all in the name of bringing awareness of GMMDC's mission. 

"We’re committed to working with Tennessee College of Applied Technology, Moore Tech College of Technology, Arkansas State University Mid-South, Southwest Tennessee Community College and others to collaboratively work together to develop individuals to meet the needs of GMMDC members," Smith said. 

Smith has also been working with the Greater Memphis Alliance for a Competitive Workforce over the past few weeks to determine how the current workforce can meet GMMDC members' needs. 

"We’re helping  GMAC to understand the specific needs by skillset of the Medical Device industry so we can gauge the pipeline of skills development that needs to be in place," he said. 

 Beyond these meeting, Smith also attended a ceremony at ASU Mid-South  to help them celebrate the accreditation of their facility by the National Institute of Metalworking Standards.  ASU Mid-South has also been certified to the “Right Skills Now” curriculum which is a fast-track method of developing individuals with a solid toolkit of entry-level skills for a machining career.