Jamie Stitt

Assistant Commissioner, Business and Workforce Development

Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development
312 Rosa L. Parks Ave., Nashville, TN 37243
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Workforce and Education

What we do best is what you do best.

Your competitive advantage is our level of craftsmanship, accomplished by skilled hands and passionate knowledge. We excel in those industries that rely on our greatest resource: a dedicated and highly skilled workforce. From global giants to homegrown startups, industry thrives in Tennessee.

To make the best products, you need the best people.

In Tennessee, we’ve created innovative workforce partnerships and game-changing education reform for skills in high demand. The result is a steady pipeline of qualified candidates.

Tennessee is leading the way nationwide in K-12 education reform. We have continued that momentum and expanded our focus to include post-secondary education through innovative initiatives including: Governor’s Investment in Vocational Education (GIVE), Drive to 55 and the Tennessee Promise.

The Governor’s Investment in Vocation Education (GIVE) initiative, part of Governor Bill Lee’s legislative agenda, is a two-pronged approach to expand access to vocational and technical training for Tennessee high school students. The GIVE initiative invests $25 million in competitively awarded community grants that will fund regional partnerships between high schools, industry, and Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology (TCATs) to build new work-based learning/apprenticeship programs, market-driven dual-credit opportunities, and the expansion of industry-informed career and technical education offerings.

Drive to 55 aims to bring the percentage of Tennesseans with college degrees or certifications to 55 percent by the year 2025. It’s not just a mission for higher education; it’s also a mission for workforce and economic development.

More than 88,000 students have enrolled in the Tennessee Promise, which commits to providing two years of community or technical college absolutely free of tuition and fees to graduating high school seniors on a continual basis. The first class of Tennessee Promise students entered school and the workforce training pipeline in the Fall of 2015.

We are the first state in the country to make this promise. It makes a clear statement to Tennessee families that education beyond high school is a priority in our state. It’s also a promise to current and prospective employers: When you bring your business to Tennessee, you’ll have the support of a devoted and highly skilled workforce.

Quick Facts

#5

In the nation for population growth among the millennial workforce (U.S. News)

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396k+

Current students enrolled in college or graduate school

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1.6+

Million people with an associate degree or higher

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85+

Post-secondary institutions in Tennessee

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2%

Increase in overall enrollment in Tennessee Public Higher Education from 2016 to 2019

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4.6

Million Tennesseans Over 18 with a High School degree or higher

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2.96+

Million Tennesseans employed in June 2020

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#1

Workforce Development: South Central Region  – Site Selection, 2019

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33k+

Job openings filled annually by the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development

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4k

Graduates in engineering, engineering technologies and engineering-related fields, an increase of 41 percent since 2010

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Students in Tennessee were awarded over 84,400 degrees and certificates in 2019, in dozens of programs.

Workforce Development Solutions at Oshkosh in Jefferson City, TN

College of Engineering at the University of Tennessee

SPOT-LOWE VOCATIONAL CENTER

18,800 Tennessee Promise Students Enrolled in Fall 2019

  • Higher education in Tennessee
    • 10 public universities
    • 35 independent colleges and universities
    • 13 community colleges
    • 27 Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology (occupational and technical training)
    • Poised to achieve a 90 percent high school graduation rate by 2020
    • More than 396,000 people enrolled in college in 2018
    • 69,000+ graduates with an Associate’s degree or higher in 2019

    Education reform

    Tennessee is leading the nation in education reform.

    • Tennessee has been the fastest improving state since 2011 on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) test, with students showing more growth over time than students in any other state.
    • The percentage of Tennesseans (age 25-64 years) with a high school diploma or equivalent  increased from 88.0 percent to 89.6 percent from 2013 to 2018. (U.S. Census)
    • The percentage of Tennesseans (age 25-64 years) with an associate’s degree or higher increased from 33.8 % to 37.0% from 2013 to 2018, which is an increase 9.5 percent (U.S. Census)
    • In addition, the number of Tennesseans (age 25-64 years) with a bachelor’s degree or higher increased by 9.7 percent, from 26.3 percent to 28.9 percent, over this same time period.
    • Currently, approximately 71,000 full-time students are enrolled at Tennessee’s community colleges and colleges of applied technology. (Tennessee Higher Education Commission)
    • Through Tennessee Promise, beginning in 2015, high school graduates in Tennessee can attend a community college or college of applied technology for two years absolutely free of tuition and fees.

    Students in Tennessee were awarded over 84,400 degrees and certificates in 2019, in dozens of programs, including the top twenty below:

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    Top 20 Programs (based on completions)2019 Completions
    Liberal Arts and Sciences, General Studies and Humanities9,900
    Business Administration, Management and Operations6,601
    Registered Nursing, Nursing Administration, Nursing Research and Clinical Nursing5,664
    Allied Health Diagnostic, Intervention, and Treatment Professions2,513
    Health and Physical Education/Fitness2,271
    Cosmetology and Related Personal Grooming Services1,954
    Psychology, General1,929
    Allied Health and Medical Assisting Services1,892
    Teacher Education and Professional Development, Specific Levels and Methods1,667
    Criminal Justice and Corrections1,664
    Practical Nursing, Vocational Nursing and Nursing Assistants1,628
    Vehicle Maintenance and Repair Technologies1,520
    Biology, General1,493
    Accounting and Related Services1,324
    Precision Metal Working1,300
    Social Work1,208
    Multi/Interdisciplinary Studies, Other1,167
    Educational Administration and Supervision1,165
    Communication and Media Studies1,089
    Marketing818
  • Educational Milestones
    • Tennessee was one of the first two states in the nation awarded $501 million in federal Race to the Top funds for education reform.
    • Tennessee was one of the first states to implement a comprehensive, student outcomes-based, statewide educator evaluation system.
    • We were the first state to fund higher education institutions based on outcomes instead of enrollment, ensuring that every student is making progress toward a degree and ultimately leaving with a credential that has value in the labor market.
    • Tennessee’s Four-Year adjusted Cohort Graduation Rates (ACGR) increased 3.3% from 2011 to 2017 and is poised to achieve a 90-percent graduation rate by 2020 (Source: Building a Grad Nation Report, America’s Promise Alliance)
    • The Governor’s Investment in Vocation Education (GIVE) initiative, part of Governor Bill Lee’s legislative agenda, is a two-pronged approach to expand access to vocational and technical training for Tennessee high school students.
    • In 2014, the state of Tennessee allocated $10 million through Tennessee LEAP (Labor Education Alignment Program) to eliminate skills gaps across the state in a proactive, data-driven and coordinated manner by encouraging collaboration across education and industry.
    • The Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) is Tennessee’s largest higher education system, governing 40 post-secondary educational institutions with over 200 teaching locations. The TBR system includes 13 community colleges and 27 colleges of applied technology, providing programs to students across the state, country and world.
  • World-class partnerships

    Tennessee is home to a number of innovative education and workforce partnerships:

    • In 2017, Nissan partnered with the Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) in Murfreesboro to open a training center in Smyrna for careers in advanced manufacturing. These training programs are part of Tennessee’s strategy to create a pipeline of high-skilled workers in the state.
    • Volkswagen joined forces with Chattanooga State Community College to develop two three-year mechatronics degree programs accredited by the German Chambers of Industry and Commerce.
    • Bridgestone partnered with Motlow State Community College to develop a mechatronics program based on the Siemens Mechatronics Systems approach to advanced manufacturing. It’s the only program in the U.S. to offer a three-step pathway for advanced manufacturing education.
    • Educational institutions in Tennessee are also partnering together to better train Tennessee’s workforce. Credit transfer programs now exist between TCAT-Morristown & Northeast State as well as TCAT-Knoxville & Pellissippi State.
    • Electrolux and the Workforce Investment Network (WIN) partnered to provide training through WIN’s Industrial Readiness Training program. Classes are based upon Electrolux’s specifications and training requirements, and are offered at the Southwest Tennessee Community College in Memphis.
  • Applicant recruitment

    Our applicant recruitment team is comprised of representatives from the Tennessee Career Centers, state agencies, local officials and education providers work in collaboration with your company’s human resource personnel to ensure a quick and efficient delivery of services. Most importantly, the members of the our team makes every effort to customize all aspects of the recruitment process to meet the specific needs of your company.

    Our recruitment process fills approximately 33,000 job openings annually. Job orders detailing the necessary job requirements can be placed with one or more of the 75 Tennessee Career Centers located throughout the state detailing the necessary job requirements. The Tennessee Career Centers will immediately match qualified job candidates to the company’s job openings. The job order will also receive statewide and national exposure through the Jobs4TN.gov website, Tennessee’s premier online job resource center for candidates and prospective employers. The talent recruitment process continues with pre-screening, assessment and testing, interviewing and pre-hire training.

  • Workforce Development Programs

    Drive to 55

    Our state has a critical new mission: Drive to 55 – the Drive to get 55 percent of Tennesseans equipped with a post-secondary degree or certificate by the year 2025. It is projected that 55 percent of occupations will require this level of educational attainment, and Tennessee will be ready. 

    It’s not just a mission for higher education, but a mission for Tennessee’s future workforce and economic development.

    Governor’s Investment in Vocational Education Act

    The Governor’s Investment in Vocation Education (GIVE) initiative, part of Governor Bill Lee’s legislative agenda, is a two-pronged approach to expand access to vocational and technical training for Tennessee high school students. The initiative invests $25 million in competitively awarded community grants that will fund regional partnerships between high schools, industry, and Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology (TCATs) to build new work-based learning/apprenticeship programs, market-driven dual-credit opportunities, and the expansion of industry-informed career and technical education offerings.

    The initiative also provides additional lottery funding to high school juniors and seniors to utilize four fully-funded dual enrollment credits for trade and technical programs. Previously, high school students only had access to two fully-funded dual enrollment credits. The funding expansion will be given only to those students enrolling in programs that directly address workforce needs identified by the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation (TSAC) board of directors.

    Tennessee Promise

    Tennessee Promise is both a scholarship and mentoring program focused on increasing the number of students that attend college in our state. It provides students a last-dollar scholarship, meaning the scholarship will cover tuition and fees not covered by the Pell grant, the HOPE scholarship, or state student assistance funds. Students may use the scholarship at any of the state’s 13 community colleges, 27 colleges of applied technology, or other eligible institutions offering an associate’s degree program. 

    While removing the financial burden is key, a critical component of Tennessee Promise is the individual guidance each participant will receive from a mentor who will assist the student as he or she navigates the college admissions process. This is accomplished primarily via mandatory meetings that students attend in order to remain eligible for the program. In addition, Tennessee Promise participants must complete eight hours of community service per term enrolled, as well as maintain satisfactory academic progress (2.0 GPA) at their institution.

    Tennessee Reconnect

    Tennessee Reconnect programs are designed to help busy adults achieve dreams of attaining a college degree or certificate to be equipped, ready and successful in today’s workforce. 

    Tennessee prides itself in having an education system that is made to benefit all Tennesseans including adults, but Tennessee is home to nearly 1 million adults with some college credit but no college degree. It is impossible to achieve the goal of Drive to 55 without re-engaging these individuals and helping them complete their degree or certificate. Tennessee Reconnect focuses on adult enrollment, retention and completion of a post-secondary credential by providing direct access to higher education. Starting Fall 2017, ALL Tennessee adults can attend and earn a diploma or certificate at any of our 13 Tennessee Community Colleges or 27 Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology (TCATs) completely free of tuition and fees.

    Explore Drive to 55

    Labor Education Alignment Program (LEAP)

    Tennessee Labor Education Alignment Program (LEAP) ensures that post-secondary institutions are producing the skills and credentials that Tennessee employers actually need. 

    Tennessee LEAP eliminates skills gaps across the state in a proactive, data-driven and coordinated manner by encouraging collaboration across education and industry and by utilizing regional workforce data to identify and then fill skills gaps across the state. 

    With a competitive grant distribution of $10 million in 2015, state funds are being utilized to support local alignment groups to develop skills gap forecasts, identify the highest priorities, and develop programs or purchase equipment needed to fill those gaps. 

    View 2019 Leap Report

    Workforce360°

    Tennessee aims to be the most aligned state in the nation between workforce, education and industry. Enter Workforce360°, a systematic partnership among state agencies and the higher education system that delivers a highly skilled workforce for your business. 

    The best solutions are most often achieved through a collaborative approach. When companies allow us to become an extension of their workforce development and recruitment efforts, we are able to provide support that is truly unique to your business. Our project based system works with your company to identify workforce gaps and streamlines solutions across Tennessee by utilizing state department communications, interaction and resources. Region-based tactical teams provide a timely response to immediate business workforce needs, as well as strategic planning for long-term requirements.

We see Nashville as a game-changer in terms of our ability to source, develop and retain talent, provide a high quality of life for our employees, enhance our competitive edge ... and make a lasting impact on our new community.

- Seth P. Bernstein, President and CEO, AllianceBernstein
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