Chattanooga State and Komatsu Partner on Pre-Apprenticeship Program

September 27, 2022 | Betty A. Proctor | Internal Press Release

students wearing hard hats in front of Komatsu sign

September 27, 2022 (Chattanooga, TN) --- Chattanooga State Community College and Komatsu America Corporation have partnered to offer the Chattanooga area's first state-certified pre-apprenticeship program. Komatsu is the second largest, fully integrated manufacturer and supplier of construction equipment in North America.

The inaugural cohort class consists of five high school seniors from Sequatchie, Marion and Hamilton counties who recently participated in a signing day at Komatsu before beginning the program. Class members include Shawn Jones, Colby Sharpe, and Dakota VanHooser–Whitwell High School; CJ Camp–Sequatchie County High School; and Austin Angland–Red Bank High School.

Students in the cohort are working four hours a day, five days per week and receive pay of $15 per hour. “The application process was competitive,” stated Pam Gitta, apprenticeship manager. “Students must have taken several high school manufacturing classes to qualify for the program and have their OSHA-10 certification.” Komatsu also required students to submit a resume and attend an in-person interview to gain ‘real world experience’ in job-hunting. The cohort class spends their mornings at Komatsu, then return to their home schools for classroom instruction in the afternoon.

This program was the result of a year-long collaborative effort between Komatsu, Career and Technical Education instructors and directors at the three county districts, the Southeast Tennessee Development District, the State of Tennessee Office of Apprenticeship, and Chattanooga State. Once students complete their pre-apprenticeship training at Komatsu, they will be eligible to start their full-time apprenticeships at ChattState in industrial maintenance or welding following their graduation from high school.

Apprenticeships are jobs that come with substantial training and the development of skills that benefit both the employer and the employee. All registered apprenticeship programs are industry-led programs in highly skilled, high-demand occupations that combine paid full-time work with structured on-the-job learning and supplemental education, resulting in portable, nationally recognized credentials within their industry.

For more information about Chattanooga State’s Registered Apprenticeship programs, call (423) 697-3100 or email