TN Strengthens Alignment Between Education & Workforce

Friday, June 26, 2015 | 1:15pm

NASHVILLE— Education and industry leaders from across the state gathered this week to discuss how to build academic pathways that establish seamless connections between education and the workforce.

Tennessee has earned national recognition for forging critical relationships between education and economic development through Pathways Tennessee, the state’s multi-agency initiative established in 2012, focused on providing rigorous education that leads to relevant careers.

Pathways Tennessee began with two pilot programs in the Upper Cumberland and Southeast regions in 2013, including a variety of industries from advanced manufacturing to health science. The network has since doubled its reach, expanding its presence into two additional regions, Southwest, including Madison, Haywood, Chester, Decatur, and McNairy counties, and Northwest, including Lake, Obion, Dyer, Gibson, and Crockett counties.

“Our students learn best through authentic and hands-on experiences,” Education Commissioner Candice McQueen said. “Exposing students to industry skills and demands and providing real-world context is a critical way to invest them in what they’re learning in the classroom.”

Existing education industry partnerships have created opportunities for students to gain industry experience, and provided regional industries the opportunity to foster high-demand skills, like critical thinking, problem solving, and communications, in future graduates.

Tennessee is part of the 12-state Pathways to Prosperity network across the country, focused on ensuring that more young people complete high school and attain postsecondary degrees and certifications relevant to the labor market.

The Pathways Tennessee conference comes on the heels of the announcement that Tennessee students made strong gains in math and science on the 2015 TCAP.

“Compared to five years ago, we have 131,000 more students on grade level in math and 60,000 more students on grade level in science,” McQueen said. “This kind of student growth, coupled with exposure to industry early, means more students will be ready to take advantage of opportunities in the STEM field after graduation.”

You can find more details about Pathways Tennessee on our website: www.tn.gov/education/section/pathwaystn.

For more information, contact Ashley Ball at (615) 532-6260 or Ashley.M.Ball@tn.gov.