Aligning Education and Skills to Meet Workforce Demands
According to the National Association of Manufacturers, over the next decade, nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will likely be needed in the United States, but 2 million of those are expected to go unfilled due to a gap in required skills. Chattanooga is facing the same skills gap phenomenon; however, with a larger percentage of Chattanooga’s population engaged in manufacturing (12.8% compared to 8.8% nationally), the need for accelerated workforce development is even greater. It is estimated that in the next decade, over 80% of jobs paying an annual living wage of at least $35,000 in the Chattanooga area will require a degree or certificate after high school. The majority of these jobs are expected to be in manufacturing, as Chattanooga is one of the top 10 Tennessee metros for growing advanced industries.
Fortunately, public and private groups in Chattanooga are working to promote the knowledge and skills needed for these burgeoning industries. Learn about these initiatives here:
CHATTANOOGA 2.0 A private-public partnership, Chattanooga 2.0 is led by the Benwood Foundation, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, the Hamilton County Department of Education, and the Public Education Foundation (PEF). Chatt 2.0 is dedicated to transforming education and workforce opportunities in Hamilton County. Their goal is to reach 75% postsecondary educational attainment by 2025. This means that in 10 years, three out of four Hamilton County residents will graduate with a certificate, two-year degree, or four-year degree.
THRIVE 2055 Dedicated to transforming workforce development, Thrive 2055 is a public-private initiative involving the 16-county, tri-state region of Northeast Alabama, Northwest Georgia, and Southeast Tennessee. An important aspect of their vision is to transform education and training to prepare children and adults to meet the professional demands of the future. Their focus is on improving workforce training by building internship opportunities and collaboration between employers and educators.
TechHire Initiative White House-backed TechHire initiative is a call to action for municipal leaders, educators, and employers to rapidly provide working-age adults the skills needed to fill technology jobs. As part of this initiative, the city has joined forces with local business partners and educators to determine the needs of employers, train new workers, and recruit candidates in underrepresented communities. Their goal is to ensure citizens have access to accelerated IT Training and good, middle-class jobs.
The Enterprise Center Chattanooga’s publicly funded center for advancing innovation and new businesses offers Tech Goes Home Chattanooga. The Enterprise Center offers the program to Hamilton County Public School parents and caregivers and their children and teaches skills and habits required for smart technology and internet use.
CHATTANOOGA AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM The Chamber’s Workforce Development Program brings businesses and services together to address the region’s workforce needs and ensure that the labor force attains the skills necessary to meet employment demands. Among several initiatives, the Workforce Development Program oversees several events, courses, and programs, including WorkKeys, a skills assessment program, and School-to-Work. More than 1,100 community volunteers reached 14,895 high school students through School-to-Work programs from July 2015 to July 2016.
TECHTOWN A technology and entrepreneurial learning center in downtown Chattanooga, TechTown offers year-round after-school programs and camps. Designed for kids ranging from seven to 17, TechTown offers kids a chance to explore robotics, circuitry, 3D design software development, and film. It also offers professional development events for teachers, a Homeschool Day, and #STEAMgirls, an initiative focused on closing the gender gap in the technology sector.
Step-Up Chattanooga Designed to address challenges faced by students and businesses, STEP-UP Chattanooga is an internship program for current low-income 10th, 11th, and 12th graders from Hamilton County schools. Modeled after a program from Minneapolis, Minnesota, students are placed in paid internships with local businesses, providing work readiness training, on-the-job experience, professional mentors, advanced career opportunities, and ongoing support.
Stem Hub and STEM School Chattanooga In an effort to develop a STEM-literate work-force in Tennessee, six regional STEM Innovation Hubs and seven STEM-themed schools have been established across the state. In Chattanooga, the Southeast Tennessee STEM Innovation Hub is operated in partnership with the Public Education Foundation. The Innovation Hub serves 24 school districts throughout the region and is a center where teachers, principals, nonprofit organizations, and leaders from business and industry work together to redesign how students learn about science, technology, engineering, and math. STEM School Chattanooga, operating as a magnet school on the campus of Chattanooga State Community College, serves as an incubator for STEM practices. Its curriculum offers real-world learning experiences using a model focused on science, technology, engineering, math, and the arts. Projects are developed in collaboration with local industry and higher education institutions and are designed to address current issues and problems.
CHATTANOOGA STATE COMMUNITY COLLEGE The college’s Workforce Development and Corporate Training Program works directly with industries to train and educate workforces in areas identified by employers. Among others, corporate training partners include Amazon, BASF, Gestamp, TVA, Volkswagen Chattanooga Operations, WACKER Polysilicon, N.A., Whirlpool, and many more. By partnering with these employers, Chattanooga State can offer its students work experience and education directly related to the career of their choice.
UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE AT CHATTANOOGA To better prepare students for the workplace, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga has launched ThinkAchieve: Creating Connections. By 2018, the goal is for every graduating student to have some type of tangible learning experience, whether it be with a company, government organization, or nonprofit. To further education and introduce students to the local business community, the program will help establish real-life work experiences within Chattanooga and its innovation sector.
The UTC College of Engineering and Computer Science Workforce Development Center The center assists students in gaining work experience and sharpening their interpersonal skills. In addition, the center provides opportunities for students to be exposed to leadership and community service activities that broaden their learning experience.
UTC Challenger STEM Learning Center Formally aligned under the College of Education, the UTC Challenger Center has a strong relationship with the Hamilton County School System and many other public and private educational entities. Each year, the Challenger programs serve approximately 8,000 students and several hundred teachers. Programs include simulated space missions that introduce students to real-world applications of STEM principles.
CLEVELAND STATE COMMUNITY COLLEGE’S WORKFORCE READINESS CENTER
Supporting economic development in the region, Cleveland State Community College has implemented programs for workforce training. A key part of this initiative is the OneSource Workforce Readiness Center, a state-of-the-art assessment and training center designed to identify, address, and close skill gaps that exist among the local industrial workforce. Recently the center was 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.