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Workforce & Education

Enhancing Tennessee's Workforce to Ensure Career-Readiness

Tennessee’s economic growth is contingent on a strong and well-trained workforce that understands both industry demands and workplace skills. The Tennessee Chamber is deeply engaged in these efforts through a number of areas that are making a real difference for business and their workforce needs. We work to be a voice for business on workforce issues and inform business and workforce partners on best practices and success stories.  Most recently in 2018 the workforce committee, in partnership with the Tennessee General Assembly and Senator Mark Norris and Rep. John Forgety, successfully passed legislation that provides employer(s) with both liability protections and a $500 grant program for participating in secondary and / or post-secondary work-based learning (WBL) programs with students.

Strengthening Tennessee’s Career and Technical Education K-12 Programs and Work Based Learning Partnerships - Chamber members consistently cite the lack of a skilled workforce and ongoing staffing challenges as a top concern for their businesses. The evolving demands of a modern, globally-competitive labor market necessitate a continued emphasis on rigorous academics, career preparation, and skill development in our state’s schools.  Anticipated shifts in the distribution of current jobs due to technology require that both our K-12 education and higher education systems proactively work together to equip students with the educational tools they need that align with the high-skill demands of the jobs of the future.

The Tennessee Chamber supports the following K-12 education policies that set a firm academic foundation for postsecondary success and career-ready knowledge and skills:

  • K-12 Career and Technical Education (CTE) - Support the enhancement and increased utilization of Tennessee’s K-12 CTE programs with opportunities that align with to industry standards and needs.
  • Work Based Learning (WBL) The Tennessee Chamber is supporting legislation that limits employer liability and provides a tax credit for participating in student WBL programs. These partnerships are key to Tennessee’s long-term economic success providing industry and students opportunities to focus on technical careers.
  • K-12 Career Learning and Information -Students need to know and understand the career paths and opportunities that are available in today’s workforce. The Tennessee Chamber will support funding efforts to establish Career K-12 focus in targeted communities to help children learn and identify career paths.
  • Tennessee Reconnect / Drive to 55– The Tennessee Chamber will work across the state to boost knowledge and utilization of Tennessee Reconnect that provides tuition for adult learners to attain a certification or degree. Tennessee Reconnect presents a great opportunity for adult learners and will help Tennessee to achieve our Drive to 55 goals.
  • Tennessee Work Ethic Diploma- The Tennessee Chamber is advocating for the increased utilization by school districts of the Work Ethic Diploma that encourages the development of employability skills that help our youth to develop the necessary skills for employment and life success.    
  • LEAP – Continue to support continued investments in Tennessee’s LEAP program that contributes substantially to the efforts of local communities to develop workforce and industry partnerships and facilitate advanced placement, dual enrollment, and industry certifications

Resources for Additional Information 

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