2020 // Workforce Development

Photo Courtesy of  University of Tennessee at Chattanooga


Education Opportunities Abound for Skilled Workers


With a heavy presence of logistics, transportation, and manufacturing jobs, the Scenic City’s economy is booming and is poised to do great things. In fact, in 2019 Chattanooga ranked No. 9 on Business Facilities magazine’s list of Top Mid-Sized MSAs for Manufacturing.

Yet continued progress across the Unites States and Southeast Tennessee is becoming more difficult due to a shortage of skilled labor. The National Association of Manufacturers reports that manufacturing output is at an all-time high, and consequently, over half a million manufacturing jobs were open in the United States in May 2019 – providing a wealth of opportunities for skilled workers. With roughly 13% of jobs in the Chattanooga area in the manufacturing sector, compared to the nation’s 8.5%, the Scenic City and its surrounding areas are also in need of more skilled workers.

To meet this need, in 2019 Governor Bill Lee launched the Governor’s Investment in Vocational Education (GIVE) Act to expand vocational and technical training for Tennessee students. The GIVE initiative utilizes regional partnerships to develop work-based learning and apprenticeship opportunities. Communities are offered funding and flexibility to build programs that best reflect local needs and work directly with private
industries to structure programming.

Separately, here in the Chattanooga area numerous private-, city-, and state-led organizations are providing needed educational programs.


Did You Know?

In 2019, Project for Public Spaces held its International Placemaking Week conference in Chattanooga and offered a lineup of workshops where attendees could learn about everything from crowdfunding to how to view the city through a lens of activism. Previous conferences have been hosted in Amsterdam and Vancouver.



Chattanooga 2.0

Started in 2015, Chattanooga 2.0 is a public-private partnership bringing together the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, Hamilton County Department of Education, Public Education Foundation (PEF), and The Benwood Foundation. This community-wide education initiative is focused on talent development through two main goals – for 60% of graduates from Hamilton County public schools to obtain a post-secondary degree or credential with real market value by 2025, and for the overall percentage of adults in Hamilton County with a college degree or technical training certificate to hit 75% by 2025. To accomplish this, Chattanooga 2.0 brings together over 150 organizations that are vested in its vision and mission.


Thrive Regional Partnership

Thrive Regional Partnership focuses on inspiring economic development in the greater Chattanooga area across 16 counties in Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia, and Northeast Alabama. One of the nonprofit’s four focus areas is education and workforce preparedness. As part of this initiative, Thrive offers students of all ages experiential learning opportunities to prepare them for future workforce options and connect them with industry professionals.


City of Chattanooga

Office of Workforce Development

Created in 2018, the Office of Workforce Development operates to advance employment for those most in need. To do so, it offers education and workforce training in the areas of HiSET courses, technology literacy, manufacturing, hospitality, health care, customer service and call centers, employment assistance, and more. Among several of the organization’s initiatives is Neighborhood Navigators, which involves door-to-door canvassing to engage and support residents in high unemployment, low-income communities.

The Enterprise Center

A nonprofit organization, The Enterprise Center, is focused on boosting innovation and entrepreneurship in the Scenic City. Among its many accomplishments, The Enterprise Center played a large role in developing Chattanooga’s innovation district – an area for the city’s thinkers, entrepreneurs, and students to collaborate and create. Tech Goes Home Chattanooga (TGHCHA) is one of the organization’s more notable programs. TGHCHA aims to expand digital inclusion among Hamilton County residents by offering free classes to improve digital skills and promote smart internet usage. Participants receive 15 hours of classroom training and have the opportunity to purchase tablets and internet at a discounted rate.


Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce Workforce Development Programs

Workforce development is a priority for Chattanooga’s Chamber of Commerce, evident by the number of individuals the Chamber impacts. By partnering with area high schools, the organization reaches 15,000 students per year with programs such as Career Crunch, a career fair for 8th graders; Reality Check, an interactive experience where 9th graders learn how to budget; Get a Job, a workshop where 10th graders practice the art of interviewing; Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, where 11th graders learn money management, as well as an annual college and career fair.



Also available to students 7-17 years old is TechTown, a learning center that hosts summer camps and after-school programs. The center is geared toward inspiring the next generation of innovators through access to industries such as circuitry, robotics, coding, 3D design, and film. In addition to helping youth, the Tech Workforce Program, designed for adults ages 17-50, helps those enrolled acquire basic hands-on computer skills.


Urban League of Greater Chattanooga

The Urban League’s Workforce Development program offers a variety of opportunities for young professionals and those looking for employment. Services include computer training, job search training, resume building, and interview preparation, as well an annual job fairs and employer informational sessions.

Public Education Foundation

Public Education Foundation



Public Education Foundation

The PEF Innovation Hub

To better serve the needs of Hamilton County teachers and their students, the PEF Innovation Hub provides K-12 teachers with opportunities to grow as instructional experts, leaders, and community connectors. By bringing these individuals together in an innovative setting, the Innovation Hub helps teachers prepare students to join the workforce. Top initiatives include Teacherpreneur, a program that offers a time and space for teachers to share and execute ideas, and the Technology Lending Library, which allows teachers to borrow an array of computers and other robotics technology to use in the classroom and advance student education opportunities. The Innovation Hub also hosts the Chattanooga Fab Institute, a digital fabrication conference, and Arcade Architects, a video game design competition where students compete by creating and coding a playable game.


Volkswagen eLabs

The Volkswagen eLabs are a collection of digital fabrication studios across Hamilton County that provide students with access to prototyping technologies. The first Volkswagen eLabs were opened in 2017, and the program was recently recognized by Boston-based nonprofit The Fab Foundation as an international leader in digital fabrication education.


STEP-UP Chattanooga

By placing area juniors and seniors into paid internships with businesses across the county, STEP-UP aims to inspire more students to pursue a post-secondary education. The program teaches students important workplace skills in customer service, office communication, project management, computer technology, and more.

Chattanooga State Technical Community College



Chattanooga State Community College

Chattanooga State’s Workforce Development team is a group of faculty members and leaders from the professional community that provides training solutions to businesses and individuals. These seminars, workshops, and programs are designed to address skill gaps, productivity issues, staff development, and strategic planning. The organization’s training partners include Amazon, BASF, Gestamp, TVA, Volkswagen Chattanooga Operations, WACKER Polysilicon, N.A., and Whirlpool, among others.


Polytech Academy at Chattanooga State

Started in 2017, Polytech Academy provides high school students with the opportunity to attend early college. With concentrations in mechatronics, chemical engineering technology, and computer information technology, students work to complete high school while simultaneously working toward their Associate of Applied Science degree. Once students have graduated from high school, they can complete their degree in two semesters.


Child Development Center

Chattanooga State’s Child Development Center (CDC) allows students and employees of the college to focus on their own needs by providing childcare to newborns and pre-kindergarten-aged children alike. The center works with participants’ class schedules and also provides tuition assistance to low-income student parents. Students taking courses through the Early Childhood Education Department can also gain necessary graduation requirements by completing their observation and practicum hours at the Child Development Center.


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

The UTC College of Engineering  and Computer Science Career Development Center

UTC’s CECS Career Development Center strives to ensure that all engineering and computer science students are marketable upon graduation. The center helps students gain valuable work experience while sharpening their interpersonal skills prior to entering the global workforce. Through the center, students are able to take part in leadership and community service activities to gain skills and broaden their learning experience.


UTC Challenger STEM Learning Center

UTC’s Challenger STEM Learning Center is one of 45 centers of its kind worldwide that helps students explore hands-on STEM programs such as simulated space missions, summer camps, teacher professional development workshops, and team building sessions. With ties to the Hamilton County public schools and other public and private educational entities, the center is able to serve 8,000 students and hundreds of teachers each year.


Cleveland State Community College’s Workforce Readiness Center

Cleveland State Community College’s OneSource Workforce Readiness Center aims to provide high-quality training to local employers and their potential employees. The assessment and training center has been designated as a National Occupational Competency Testing Institute (NOCTI) solutions assessment center. With this designation, Cleveland State works with local businesses and industries to assess workers for pre-employment, promotion, and training programs. Assessment results are then used to develop curriculum and training that build core competencies for different workforces.