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Tidewater Community College Launches Rivian Technical Trades Program

Hampton Roads, VA (June 12, 2023) – Tidewater Community College has launched the Rivian Technical Trades program, a partnership program with electric vehicle maker Rivian designed to train the next generation of electric vehicle (EV) technicians. The program’s first cohort of students joined in March of this year and will complete their training as part of this program this summer.

The program involves five months of training with a focus on electric vehicle service and light repair. Upon completion of the program, students have the opportunity to become Rivian Service Technicians or enter the high-demand EV service job market in a similar capacity.

“We are thrilled to partner with Rivian to provide this quality training opportunity for future technicians,” said Tamara Williams, Vice President of TCC’s Center for Workforce Solutions. “With interest increasing for electric vehicles, this training is just what is needed to prepare the workforce of the future.”

This program is an earn-and-learn program, where students are paid $26 per hour as part of their internship at a local Rivian Service Center if they maintain at least a B average in their coursework.

Student technicians learn the latest electric vehicle technologies inside the classroom and put those theories into practice with hands-on training at the college’s Skilled Trades Academy, as well as at Rivian Service Centers during their paid internships. As part of this partnership, Rivian has provided two vehicle lifts, an alignment rack, and three Rivian vehicles – a Rivian R1T pickup, R1S SUV and one of the company’s custom electric delivery vans for Amazon – to the college for onsite training.

“The Rivian Technical Trades program provides training that will unleash students’ potential to become electric vehicle technicians,” says Nana Danso, Rivian’s Senior Manager of Workforce Development. “It’s specifically designed to spark careers in the burgeoning electric vehicle service sector by building on the skills needed to power the future through electric mobility with a flexible, bi-directional approach.”

The program caters to those who have already completed an automotive technology degree or transitioning military members with relevant experience. Participating students are also required to have a basic knowledge of electrical systems.

To learn more about the program, call TCC’s Center for Workforce Solutions at 757-822-1234 or email

Rivian exists to create products and services that help our planet transition to carbon-neutral energy and transportation. Rivian designs, develops, and manufactures category-defining electric vehicles and accessories and sells them directly to customers in the consumer and commercial markets. Rivian complements its vehicles with a full suite of proprietary, value-added services that address the entire lifecycle of the vehicle and deepen its customer relationships. Learn more about the company, products, and careers at

Founded in 1968, Tidewater Community College ( helps students of all ages and backgrounds achieve their educational and career goals. TCC is the largest provider of higher education and workforce solutions in southeastern Virginia, serving both students and local employers with in-demand academic and career programs. It is one of 23 schools that make up Virginia’s Community Colleges.

Marine vet finds new career on the road thanks to TCC trucking grant

Former U.S. Marine Chris Gaillard found a new career as a truck driver after the training she received at Tidewater Community College that came without a price tag.

“I love what I do,” said Gaillard, who benefitted from a federal grant awarded to TCC’s Center for Military and Veterans Education (CMVE) that supports trucking training and education for military veterans and their families. “I’m doing what I always wanted to do and having the best time of my life.”

Owner of her own Freightliner Classic, Gaillard, 57, was immediately hired by Givens Inc., a transportation, warehousing and logistics company with locations in Seattle, South America and Chesapeake.

After her Marine discharge, Gaillard worked as an auto technician for decades but had been intrigued by trucks since childhood. A single parent, she began saving money to work toward her Career Studies Certificate in Truck Driving when she saw the information online about the grant. After the CMVE assisted her with the application process, she was accepted into the program.

“I was able to spend all the money I saved on living expenses and other things,” she said.

Gaillard completed the program in May 2015 and began her job within a week. She hauls everything from stereo equipment to automobile parts to baby wipes, rarely driving the same route twice.

“The freedom is the biggest thing for me,” she said. “I’m not stuck behind a desk or in a cubicle or in a garage like I was for 35 years. I’m out on the road. I get to see beautiful parts of the country that many may never see for free.”

For information on the Truck Driving program contact Matt Woods at or call 757-822-2639.

TCC part of new Community College Workforce Cooperative

Tidewater Community College is part of a new collaboration among three community colleges in Hampton Roads designed to meet the large-scale job training needs of the region’s businesses and industries. The new Community College Workforce Cooperative (CCWC) will create a single point of contact to access the workforce training resources of TCC, Camp and Thomas Nelson community colleges which together serve 11 cities and four counties through 10 college locations.

“In my first year as college president, I quickly learned how limiting the artificial boundaries of our college service regions can be to the work we do,” said TCC President Marcia Conston. “This is an important step for us to take to ensure that boundaries that were mapped out in the 1960s don’t stop us from addressing Hampton Roads’ many training needs.”

The CCWC will direct and coordinate the job training resources, leveraging facilities, labs and additional training resources of all three community colleges to address the sizeable training needs that exist today in industries like shipbuilding and ship repair. That centralized coordination means those needs will be addressed faster and more cost-effectively. The CCWC will also ensure that the colleges are better prepared to meet emerging trends in the region, like the growing alternative energy industry.

“By working together, we can build an even stronger and more vibrant workforce,” said Tamara Williams, interim vice president of TCC’s Center for Workforce Solutions. “This collaboration positions us to help advance the region’s economic development priorities, filling workforce gaps, and making community college training even more accessible to large employers.”

The CCWC welcomed new Executive Director Todd Estes with the Virginia Community College System. The group held its first meeting this winter and included the presidents of each of the three community colleges, as well as representatives of their workforce development centers.

TCC to offer first plumbing program

Tidewater Community College is offering its first plumbing program. The program is designed to quickly train students for careers in the field and is suited for transitioning military or anyone interested in the skilled trades.

The 204-hour hands-on program is being offered at TCC’s Skilled Trades Academy and when completed, students will receive an industry-recognized credential through National Center for Construction Education and Research, along with 20 continuing education units awarded from TCC.

“Plumbing is an essential job,” said instructor Cody Whitlock. “We currently don’t have enough skilled workers, so companies are always looking for trained and competent people. This program will help build a pipeline of skilled workers.”

Students will learn the basics of plumbing, as well as safety, tools of the trade, and how to use plumbing math and drawings. Students will work with plastic, copper and cast-iron pipes, specific fittings, and drain, waste, and vent systems, to name a few.

Students will learn in this training “house,” newly built in TCC’s Skilled Trades Academy.

“This is the first plumbing class TCC has ever had,” added Whitlock. “To facilitate learning, we’ve built a mock house where we will teach students the hands-on techniques used when working with pipes and fittings.”

The first class starts on April 12 and ends August 17. The class will meet Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays from 5:30 – 9:30 p.m. The registration deadline is April 9.

“Learning plumbing is something no one can take from you,” Whitlock added. “You can take it anywhere and everyone needs it.”

For more information, call TCC’s Center for Workforce Solutions at 822-1234 or email

REV program a win-win-win for students, employers & the economy

It’s not just Tidewater Community College students who will benefit from the Re-Employing Virginians (REV) initiative, which will provide scholarships to those unemployed or underemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Regional employers will benefit as well. Gov. Ralph Northam’s $27 million initiative in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act targets those in the essential industries of health care, information technology, skilled trades, public safety and early childhood education.

“TCC is ready to lead this charge to help students in these essential fields,” said Cindy Free, chair of the TCC College Board. 

REV vouchers are available now

One-time REV scholarships of $3,000 are available to those who qualify for a full-time workforce program and scholarships of $1,500 will help those who qualify for a part time or a short-term, noncredit training program.

Training the next generation of skilled technicians has been an ongoing priority for TCC.

“Mitsubishi Chemical has long supported TCC’s development of workforce training and we have benefited directly from it,” said Bill Yannetti, president and chief executive officer of Mitsubishi Chemical Composites America. “We believe graduates of the Mechatronics program, and others within the college, are a fantastic source of well-trained, ready-to-work manpower.”

TCC students who complete workforce programs often have jobs prior to graduation.

Helping Virginians get back to work

“We know jobs are plentiful in these high-demand career areas in the Hampton Roads region,” said TCC President Marcia Conston. “TCC’s curriculum aligns with the needs of its industry partners in those areas, so once you have the education, you are prepared to be hired immediately. “

TCC’s allotment, $3 million in tuition-only scholarships, will be passed on to those who meet some basic eligibility requirements.

Norfolk’s Jessica South, 21, is among the first to use a REV voucher to enroll at TCC. She looks forward to working toward an associate degree in early childhood education. She is unemployed and would not be able to afford college without the REV program.

“I read up on it and found my degree on the list of programs and right away decided to apply,” said South, who received $3,000 toward her tuition. “I received a call from a TCC advisor the very same day. It was such an easy process.”

TCC partners agree this is a win-win for the community

TCC has a long history of working with the Hampton Roads Workforce Council and that continues with the governor’s REV initiative.

“Governor Northam’s commitment to providing the resources to meet the educational needs of Hampton Roads and Virginia residents is a great step in the recovery process,” said Shawn Avery, president and chief executive officer of the Hampton Roads Workforce Council.  “The Workforce Council looks forward to supporting Tidewater Community College in promoting this opportunity to the region.”

Northam regards the program as a win for workers, employers and the state’s economy.

“As we focus on recovering from the impacts of the global pandemic, the new REV initiative will give Virginians the resources they need to get back on their feet and help ensure that our Commonwealth emerges from this public health crisis even stronger than we were before,” he said.

To find out if you qualify for a REV scholarship, visit here.

Governor visits TCC for workforce listening tour

Gov. Ralph Northam’s visit to Tidewater Community College on Sept. 17 marked another stop on his workforce development listening tour. The hour-session provided an opportunity for community members, business leaders and educators to collaborate on how to best strengthen Virginia’s talent pipeline and address emerging employment challenges.

Northam addressed the group, which included Glenn Dubois, chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges, at TCC’s Norfolk Campus Student Center.

“People ask me all the time what is my top priority as governor,” Gov. Northam said.  “It’s really very simple. It’s about jobs and making sure all Virginians have jobs that they can support themselves and their families with.”

The listening sessions coincide with National Workforce Development Month, which is September

 “It is really appropriate for community colleges to be central in discussions on workforce development,” said TCC President Greg DeCinque. “We’re here to listen and respond by developing programs that will put people to work in Virginia.”

Northam last stopped at TCC when the college’s Skilled Trades Center opened in December. The 20,000-square-foot facility in Portsmouth prepares students for careers in everything from welding to pipefitting, marine coating and pipe laying. Graduates of these short-term training programs transition into high-paying jobs that don’t require bachelor’s or even associate degrees.

Hampton Roads anticipates 68 percent more job openings in skilled trades over the next five years than workers trained to fill them.

“How do we as parents, legislators, educators and counselors get past the stigma that if our children don’t go to a four-year school, they won’t be successful?” Northam asked. “In today’s job market, there are plenty of good paying jobs that don’t require a four-year degree.”

Chancellor Dubois noted that community colleges started 50 years ago to meet workforce needs and continue that mission today.

Also joining the conversation with the governor: Atif Qarni, Virginia Secretary of Education; Dan Lufkin, president of Paul D. Camp Community College; and John Dever, president of Thomas Nelson Community College. Megan Healy, Chief Workforce Development Officer, moderated the session.

Additional ideas that emerged from the listening session regarding community colleges include:

*Stress the benefits of community college with parents, especially regarding career technical training.

*Educate guidance counselors on community college offerings and 21st century jobs requiring less than a four-year degree.

*Create educational opportunities that line up with new business needs, such as gamification, cybersecurity, unmanned aerial systems and biotechnology, as well as jobs in science, technology, engineering and math.

*Offer internships to provide workers with needed experience.

*Continue to be military-friendly and provide education for veterans and their families.

 “We are blessed in Virginia to have great colleges and universities, and we need to make sure they are affordable for all Virginians,” Northam said. “We also have 23 great community colleges, and we are putting a lot of emphasis on high school level vocational training.”