Online Tool Helps Tennessee Students Launch Careers
Editor's note: This column originally appeared in The Bristol Herald Courier.
As parents sit down with high school juniors and seniors to consider college options, it is no wonder that increasingly, families are spending more time thinking about what happens after a student completes his or her degree. The same goes for the veteran or the increasing number of adult learners who want to go back to school.
A college education is one of the biggest investments—in money, in time, and in personal effort—that anyone makes in his or her lifetime. Therefore it is only natural to ask: What will be the return on my investment?
We in the Tennessee business community, meanwhile, look to our institutions of higher learning to help prepare a workforce with the skills we need to grow and expand our companies.
In Johnson City, Kingsport and Bristol we are blessed to have a first class university system at East Tennessee State University, along with King University, Milligan College, Northeast State Community College, Lincoln Memorial University, Tusculum College, and other regional institutions. We also have the good fortune to live and work in a state that is a leader in educational reforms. That is why the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation—in partnership with the American Institutes for Research, Gallup, and USA Funds—have chosen Tennessee as one of the first states where they will introduce a tool to help Tennesseans learn about in-demand jobs and what pathways can lead them there.
The Johnson City/Jonesborough/Washington County Chamber was selected along with Memphis, Knoxville and Rutherford County Chambers to assist in the introduction, along with the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Sharing the web tool in their respective regions will be part of the pilot effort.
Called LaunchMyCareerTN.org, this tool will give all those considering a degree a data-driven way to choose the right degree, the right program, and the right institution to help them achieve their goals. The Tennessee Higher Education Commission intends to utilize this in their member institutions across the state.
Interestingly, 68 percent (almost 7 in 10) graduates of Tennessee colleges and universities say their education has prepared them well for life after graduation, according to a Gallup-Purdue Index study. The national figure is 64 percent. Some of the reasons that Tennessee students gave include the personal attention they received from professors and other mentors, or the experience they got through internships and other jobs during college.
As they use the Launch My Career TN tool, prospective college students can learn about personal satisfaction, along with many other factors such as potential earnings and time it will take to complete the degree, as they evaluate a school and its outcomes.
Meanwhile, the business community in the Tri-Cities area and throughout the state is eager to find new ways to address the skills gap that many of us experience. It matters to Tennessee employers how our higher education programs align with the most in-demand careers available in the state.
With that in mind, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry will release LaunchMyCareerTN.org at 10 a.m. CDT today, at the AT&T Building, with remarks from Commissioner Burns Phillips of the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
Whether you can make it to the Nashville event or not, we hope you will join the conversation, as Tennessee businesses and higher education combine efforts to build minds and a stronger workforce.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Gary Mabrey is president/CEO of the Johnson City/Jonesborough/Washington County Chamber of Commerce; Miles Burdine is president/CEO of the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce; and Beth Rhinehart is president/CEO of the Bristol TN/VA Chamber of Commerce.