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Knoxville Regional
Transportation Planning Organization

400 Main St, Suite 403
Knoxville, TN 37902

phone: (865) 215-2500
fax: (865) 215-2068

Education Roundtable Focuses on Aligning Career Paths with Economic Development

Posted 09/19/2013

A key aspect of sustaining regional job growth is supplying a workforce that is capable of fulfilling the demands of high-growth jobs sectors. A recent roundtable series brought business, workforce development and educators together to consider ways to raise awareness of where those opportunities might lie and how to prepare students to fill them.

For most East Tennesseans, the link between good jobs, a high quality of life and regional prosperity is obvious. And, for a majority of those residents, the best way to attract and retain good jobs is just as clear: students need to be better prepared to enter the workforce.

Business, educational, and community leaders from the five Plan East Tennessee counties convened this summer for a series of three Education Roundtables and drafted steps to address that challenge.

Roundtable participants agreed that the region must align business and economic professionals with parents and educators to build a system of career-specific training paths that link workers to the local labor market and allow economic development partners to successfully recruit sector-specific industries.

The group also highlighted the importance of teaching soft skills, such as leadership, teamwork, adaptability and work ethic. For example, technology gains of the past several years have brought increasing use of robotics and advanced information systems to the region’s workplaces. But at the same time, there is growing demand for workers who have the ability to work on teams and solve problems.

Because rising students and their parents, displaced workers, and individuals seeking career-planning advice need to know the industries that are expected to grow and are being recruited to the area, the final roundtable focused on evaluating strategies to raise awareness of high-demand jobs. Teaching workforce skills that match workplace demands is essential.

Recommendations from the Education Roundtable are now being compiled and will be released this fall.

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