Educating the Workforce of Tomorrow Fall 2017 - Page 5

Through the Pathways TN framework, chambers of commerce, industry partners, middle and high schools, and postsecondary institutions work together to promote active business and industry involvement in student exploration and on-the-job learning, enhance career guidance, and improve the transfer of postsecondary credits earned in high school to postsecondary institutions upon enrollment. Pathways TN - Starting The Conversation “Based on employer feedback, we knew we needed to address pressing education and workforce opportunities. The Highlands Economic Partnership commissioned a study on student dropout from high school. We also To build strong education to career pathways, conducted a labor study to understand the skills regional Pathways TN partners take the gap between the workforce and employer needs. following actions: These two studies were foundational to creating 1. County and local leaders build interest in the Pathways Committee. Educators and area business leaders model. Leaders discuss links between K-12, higher a Workforce Development and Education serve on the committee. education, and local business and industry needs. 2. Leaders develop a core team, typically involving members of chambers of commerce, school district leaders, and two- and four-year postsecondary education leaders. 3. Consulting Pathways TN resources, core teams consider local economic and education data, and if needed, conduct further study of education and the workforce. 4. Core teams develop a three-year plan to guide collective action. The plan encourages alignment of middle, high school, and postsecondary courses with economic demands, keeping quality of programming and equitable student access as primary considerations. Through a collaborative process, we developed goals based on the education and workforce data. By having the right people in the room at the same time, we discovered how much we could get done. Ideas fly when people get outside of their silos and come together to solve challenges! That’s when the magic happens. Directors of schools get in friendly competition – they don’t want to miss a Workforce Development and Education Committee meeting, because there’s such rich conversation.” Lillian Hartgrove, Director of Workforce Development, Upper Cumberland Highlands Economic Partnership, and Tennessee State Board of Education As of 2017, seven regional Pathways partnerships have formed, with four active regions and three regions getting started. Tennessee continues to expand work to remaining regions and promote innovation across the state. Through Pathways TN, communities are bridging the gap between education and career. 4