Schools training workers for Reno's growing tech industry

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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Tanner Clark is seven months pregnant and works several jobs, but none of that is stopping her from going after her goal: trying to land a job at the Panasonic factory, where her boyfriend works.

"Every time my boyfriend and I go out, he's like, 'I built that.' And I like the little things that he makes at work. He talks about it all the time. I'm excited about how excited he is about it and it makes me want to be excited about it, too," said Clark.

Clark is now enrolled in a four-month program at Truckee Meadows Community College, where she is studying advanced manufacturing. She says she may want to be an operator on an assembly line.

"It's like a whole new world for me," said Clark, who says she's mostly worked in retail for the last twelve years.

Clark is far from alone in seeking out this kind of training. TMCC says it has seen a significant increase in demand for programs that would give students the certified training and experience they need for many of the technology and manufacturing jobs becoming available in Northern Nevada.

"I think Tesla is very proud of the fact that at this point in time, most of their employees are Nevadans. And we want to keep that up," said Karin Hilgersom, TMCC President.

It's a priority for Nevada's governor, who brought it up at this week's VentureBeat Blueprint conference, which has attracted hundreds of technology leaders and CEOs to Reno.

"We're investing in our community colleges, TMCC, Western Nevada College, and we're investing in our university. We're having these certification programs to allow people from the local area to get these amazing jobs that are being created right here in the area," said Governor Brian Sandoval.

Governor Sandoval also mentioned the Washoe County School District is preparing our youngest students for these jobs of the future, as well.

"Washoe County has done a great deal of work to put programs in place that align with the workforce development opportunities and that includes programs in computer science and advanced manufacturing," said Dr. Dana Ryan, Director of Washoe County School District Signature Academies and Career and Technical Education.

She says the district has spent more than $10 million building facilities to engage kids in state-of-the-art technology that is being used in the industries.

"We want to make sure that these kids have an opportunity to stay here if that's what they want," she said. "That we have the jobs and they have the preparation and they are ready for whatever comes our way."