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.
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.