Building Our Workforce With Tuition-Free College For All Tennessee Adults

Thursday, June 21, 2018

As graduation season has come to a close, we celebrated the hard work and perseverance of so many who have achieved their dreams of earning a college degree. Their college success is not only important to their future lives - but also to the future of Tennessee. 

Like many places across the country, Tennessee is facing a skilled workforce shortage. And while we know the vast majority of new jobs will require some form of education beyond high school, over half of Tennesseans, ages 25-64, do not have the necessary credentials or degrees to fill those jobs.  

The good news is there has never been a better time for all adults to go back to school for additional training and to earn a post-secondary education.  

Thanks to a new program called Tennessee Reconnect, Tennessee adults can now earn a two-year degree or credential at any of our technical or community colleges, tuition free.   

Addressing our skills gap is a top priority for Tennessee because a healthy, growing economy requires a workforce ready to fill the jobs so many of our employers need.  

That’s one reason why Governor Bill Haslam charged our state with the goal to equip 55 percent of all Tennessee adults with a degree or credential beyond high school by 2025, and why our state legislature helped create first-in-the-nation programs to get our workforce ready.  

We’ve already made great progress increasing the college-going rate for our high school graduates through the Tennessee Promise scholarship program, but we will not reach our state workforce goal without engaging adult learners as well.  

Tennessee Reconnect offers every adult the chance to gain the credentials they need to advance their career and to increase their earning potential for years to come.  

The application for Tennessee Reconnect is open, and more than 14,000 Tennessee adults have already applied. But we want to make sure every adult who could benefit from this program knows it is available — and we hope you will join us by spreading the word.  

Many of the state’s largest employers and dozens of local chambers are coming together to do our part. Our Drive to 55 Alliance of business organizations and private sector partners are not only promoting the program, but also working to pinpoint the highest-demand employment needs and to help make sure the adults who do go back to school are getting the skills they actually need.  

Tennessee’s higher education institutions are also actively promoting Tennessee Reconnect by holding information sessions for potential students, changing the way they are doing business to better serve adult learners, and offering tangible resources and supports to help adult students move from college application to actual completion. 

No other state in the nation is taking this kind of strategic and innovative approach to tackle its workforce challenges and to expand access to higher education.  

The Drive to 55 is not just an education and workforce initiative, but an economic imperative for our entire state. Achieving our goal will mean greater economic development, more good-paying jobs all across Tennessee, and an improved quality of life for everyone. 

We are proud to support Tennessee Reconnect. We believe it is a life-changing opportunity for all Tennessee adults and a real game-changer for businesses and the future of our state.  

Working together in promoting this first-in-the-nation opportunity, we will make our state even more workforce ready and build a stronger, more prosperous Tennessee. 

Scott Becker, Senior VP for Nissan North America
Bradley Jackson, President of the TN Chamber
Co-Chairs, Statewide Drive to 55 Alliance


Criminal Illegals And Political Lip Service

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In 2013 the Chattanoogan posted an article about an illegal immigrant that had been arrested for his 3rd DUI offense. At the time, I though how could an illegal immigrant even be in this country ... (click for more)

Ever so often my dear friend Dale Brown, the former LSU basketball coach, will include me as he shares his wonderful thoughts, occasional devotions, and glittering ideas how we should be our ... (click for more)

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Opinion

Criminal Illegals And Political Lip Service

In 2013 the Chattanoogan posted an article about an illegal immigrant that had been arrested for his 3rd DUI offense. At the time, I though how could an illegal immigrant even be in this country after a first DUI arrest, let alone a second, and then a third? This disturbed me to the point that I wrote to Rep. Chuck Fleischmann and Senator Bob Corker to ask the question of how ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: A Thanksgiving Opener

Ever so often my dear friend Dale Brown, the former LSU basketball coach, will include me as he shares his wonderful thoughts, occasional devotions, and glittering ideas how we should be our best every day. Dale is an expert at motivation yet he’s got a friend whose insight I’ve grown to adore. When Dale was at LSU, he signed a stunning basketball player named Johnny O’Bryant III ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Escaped Inmate Empties Gun On Walker County Deputies, But They Are Not Hit

The Walker County Sheriff's Office said an escaped inmate emptied his gun at two deputies after a traffic stop on Tuesday, but they were not hurt. The deputies returned fire, and it is believed that Robert Dean Root was hit twice. Root remains on the list with another man who was with him, John Ambers Ross III. Root is 41 and Ross 30. After the stop, Ross jumped out of ... (click for more)

Bradley County Inmate Keith McGill Escapes During Hospital Visit

A Bradley County Justice Center inmate who was transported by corrections officers to Tennova Healthcare on Chambliss Avenue, in Cleveland for medical treatment has escaped. At 9:38 p.m., while at the hospital, the inmate fled from the premises. He was wearing an orange jumpsuit and has been identified as Keith McGill, 31. McGill is approximately 6’1”, ... (click for more)

Sports

UTC's Mack Finalist For 2018 Buck Buchanan Award

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga senior defensive lineman Isaiah Mack has been named a finalist for the 2018 Buck Buchanan Award. A mid-season addition to the Watch List, Mack is one of 25 finalist that was pared down as voting began today. A part of the 2018 STATS FCS legacy awards, the Buchanan Award, presented to the national defensive player of the year in college ... (click for more)

UTC Athletics Prepares For Giving Tuesday

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's Mocs Club announced that Chattanooga Athletics is participating in Giving Tuesday for the first time on November 27. The Mocs Club is using the day to launch its "Drive for 25" campaign. The campaign aims to raise $25,000 in scholarship funds for UTC student-athletes to which an anonymous donor has generously agreed to match. The ... (click for more)