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Concern expressed about local workforce
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According to Warren County Commissioner Les Trotman, various industry representatives have told him their biggest concern with Warren County’s existing industry is a stable workforce.
“I’m not sure how we can address it, whether we talk to the school system and see if they can do a class on business ethics or work ethics,” said Trotman. “Even Nissan over in Smyrna is having problems. I heard they have gone through 5,000 people in three years just trying to find people who are willing to show up every day to work. I don’t know how we can address that, but it may be something we want to discuss and consider.”
Trotman made his comments during a recent meeting of the county’s Economic and Agricultural Development Committee. County officials were joined in the meeting by McMinnville Mayor Jimmy Haley and Alderman Ken Smith.  
Haley said, “I teach in my economics class work responsibility. When we talk about the work force, I give the students demographics and I tell them the important things about showing up for work and being on time and not being tardy. It is a particular mindset with some people now that it is all right to be late as long as you show up. And, some also think everybody needs a break from their job every now and then. It is just changing their mindset. It is what they are hearing at home. I’m not sure having a whole class devoted to it would change the mindset of basically what they have at home. It is a challenge because I don’t think people are held accountable as much any more.”
Commissioner George Smartt, who is also a teacher at the high school, said, “One good thing we do at the high school is that financial management classes have a Reality Day every semester. They go into the auxiliary gym and have different tables set up like rent, insurance, groceries, things like that. The students have to come up with some semblance of a balanced budget and how they are going to spend their money, whether they are going to be married or not, if they are going to have kids, if they are going to rent or own, so forth. But, there is no permanence to it. There is no penalty if you are out of money on Tuesday. You know, where you eat rice and beans or you walk.”
Haley said, “A lot of the kids have jobs anyway so they know what the responsibilities are. Once they are 16, we probably have 40 to 50 percent of the kids who have some sort of job. The ones that understand the responsibilities keep their jobs. The ones who don’t are always looking for something else because they don’t keep their jobs long enough. I think we need to focus on changing the demographics of what our community is and if that’s creating better paying jobs and job recruitment then if people see the opportunity that is here, then maybe they will apply themselves.”
County Executive John Pelham said, “We have to remember things don’t happen overnight. I believe we are on track with our Mechatronics classes at Motlow and with our scholarship program. I know a college degree isn’t for everybody and with the types of jobs that are out there right now, Mechatronics picks that gap up. And, with our Technology Center and with our Citizens for Progress Scholarship fund, those numbers continue to grow. These are programs we are into now for about three or four years and we are starting to see the effects of it. I think we are on the right track. I think the main thing we can do is stay the course.”
Members of the county’s Economic and Agricultural Committee present for the meeting were Commissioners Trotman, Ron Lee and Smartt. Commissioners Wayne Copeland and Gary Prater were absent.