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Walters State, Dollywood Announce Apprenticeships
November 11, 2020

Officials from Walters State Community College, The Dollywood Company and the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development today announced an apprentice partnership that will offer both classroom work and paid on-the-job training. An agreement was officially signed at the college’s Sevier County Campus.
Those who complete the program will have skills needed for in-demand jobs in the area, including hotel associate, food service manager and cook. Each apprenticeship is a three-year program, and includes a job at Dollywood. Apprentices will be paid for time spent on the job and these positions will be full-time, which includes a full benefit package. 
When the program is completed, graduates will have several industry certifications, a completed apprenticeship certificate and college credit that can be applied to a technical certificate or an associate’s degree in hospitality management or culinary arts. Graduates from the program also will earn a leadership position in their area of study within The Dollywood Company. 
“We at Walters State are excited to be involved with The Dollywood Company through this innovative program. This will give individuals valuable work experience at one of the country’s top tourism destinations while also gaining the classroom education needed to rise in their careers,” said Dr. Tony Miksa, president of Walters State. 
“Many of our students enter the workforce with part-time jobs at The Dollywood Company while still a student and many have gone to have successful careers there. We think we’ll add to that number in the coming years with this program.”

“The partnership between The Dollywood Company and Walters State is a great example of employers and colleges coming together to make sure the workforce has the skills needed to perform a job successfully and the supporting education needed for long-term career success,” Tyra Copas, state apprenticeship director for the Tennessee Department of Labor, said. 
Copas explained that registered apprenticeships like this one help individuals, employers and communities. Individuals can gain experience, classroom instruction and a nationally recognized credential without the need to go in debt and employers are able to develop and train their workforce with the specific skills needed, she said. For communities, Copas said that apprenticeships change the economic trajectory of households while supporting local employers.
 
“Due to the variety of properties and positions that comprise our company, Dollywood is a great place for advancement and career longevity,” said Tim Berry, Dollywood vice president of human resources. “We know students who enter this apprentice program at Walters State will have experiences and opportunities that will prepare them well to work in this exciting industry. We are even more excited to be able to provide a full-time position for them to be part of our award-winning team of hosts.”  
Walters State has apprenticeship programs with 12 companies. If you are interested in learning more about how a program could benefit your company, contact Dr. Anita Ricker, assistant dean of workforce development, at Anita.Ricker@ws.edu.
If you would like to apply for apprenticeship positions at Dollywood, contact Renee Grover at (865) 428-9414.