Tennessee has drawn its share of higher education attention with its Promise program gaining national recognition. A new initiative seeks to further address workforce skills challenges.
The Times Free Press in Chattanooga has the details.
Beginning next fall, new graduates of the Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) or similar technical programs offering certificates and degrees from state community colleges will come with an eye-catching “warranty” for prospective employers.
If companies can demonstrate the graduates they hire aren’t up to snuff, “we’ll take them back and train them for free,” Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor Flora Tydings told Gov. Bill Haslam.
Replied Haslam: “I love the idea. … That’s accountability at its finest.”
“It’s exactly what it sounds like,” Tydings told reporters. “If you do not have the skill set for which we say we have trained you, we’ll take you back and retrain you for free – if an employer documents that you do not have those skill sets within a year of graduation.”
Tydings said she doesn’t expect community colleges and TCAT to have to do much graduate retraining because of the job the institutions do.
The Switzerland County Economic Development Corporation (SCEDC) recently earned a major award. Its president, Jon Bond, was a participant in our BizVoice magazine discussion on regional economic development organizations. That story and the complete November-December BizVoice will be available online on the evening of November 12 in conjunction with the Indiana Chamber's 24th Annual Awards Dinner.
Bond notes in the magazine the challenges that Switzerland and other rural counties face in the highly-competitive world of business attraction and retention. Enhancing workforce skills is certainly one area that will set any community or region apart. Congratulations to the SCEDC.
Switzerland County Economic Development Corporation received the Excellence in Economic Development Gold Award for its ongoing workforce skills initiative. The award, presented by the International Economic Development Council, honors the best program in North America in the category of Human Capital for small communities.
For some communities, local workforce data is a strong selling point to investing businesses. In others, however, data reveals critical issues that can offset other advantages a community offers to business prospects.
“In Switzerland County, we realized we could not effectively negotiate with prospects demanding a pipeline of skilled workers until we had constructed that pipeline for them,” said Jon Bond, president of Switzerland County Economic Development Corporation.
In 2008, as participants in a Lilly Endowment-funded regional initiative to raise the educational attainment and earnings of Southeast Indiana residents, the Switzerland County Economic Development Corporation looked at the workforce demands of regional employers, and compared the results to the available workforce data. “Those results made it clear that we had to do things differently,” said Bond.
Five years later, Switzerland County Economic Development Corporation’s EcO15 initiative assists residents seeking the necessary skills to enter, re-enter or re-position themselves in the workforce. Its approach focuses on people, not programs, and measures success one person at a time. The SCEDC works to eliminate barriers to success and to provide options that will meet individual needs of our residents seeking to improve their skills.
The Switzerland County Technology and Education Center is the cornerstone of the EcO15 program. Completed in 2012, the multi-use facility features classrooms and labs for adult educational opportunities. The EcO15 effort also created an advanced manufacturing lab at Switzerland County High School, and initiated a focus on STEM education. And the community’s residents now receive frequent, regular messages on the importance of upgrading their workplace skills to remain competitive in today’s economy.
For more information about the Switzerland County Economic Development Corporation and its Eco15 initiative, please visit www.switzerlandusa.com.