Officials weigh in on teaching job skills, rising tuition costs at conference

KINGSPORT, Tenn. - Hundreds of teachers were at Meadowview Convention Center Friday morning for the third annual Straight to the Top education conference.

One of the topics teachers were encouraged to consider is training for the jobs that are available in today's job market.

Many of those jobs include skill sets that can be learned at community colleges and trade centers without ever needing to spend time and money on a four year degree.

"The Tennessee Technology Center over in Elizabethton, even in today's economy [they] place almost 90 percent of their people they graduate. It may be a certified nurse assistant, a welder, or a computer technician, other skills like that that are very much needed," said Congressman Phil Roe.

News 5 also caught up with the Tennessee Board of Regents Vice Chancellor of Community Colleges Warren Nichols while at the conference.

He told us the way it looks right now, the trend of rising tuition costs will continue into next year.

Nichols said the state used to fund 60 to 70 percent of the cost of community colleges, but now that figure is closer to 40 percent, meaning it's up to the students to fund the extra expense.

"Until the state has the ability to fund us at a higher level, well then the choices are few and far between," said Nichols.

Nichols worries the more tuition rates rise, the more potential students will no longer be able to afford an education.

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