Education & Workforce

Since its inception, Roundtable leaders have understood the need for a robust education system. In order to have a thriving economy, an educated populace is a necessity. Rigorous standards, high expectations of students, and aligned assessments are the building blocks of a prepared workforce. Below are some ways that the Roundtable helps to ensure that Tennesseans are graduating with the skills necessary to be successful.

2019 State Policy Priorities

Fix Tennessee’s K-12 academic testing—and keep it closely aligned to our state’s academic standards.

  • Tennessee must protect the value, integrity of, and confidence in TN Ready and other vital K-12 academic achievement tests by ensuring that these assessments are executed at a level of excellence.
  • It’s critically important that these tests deliver timely, accurate measurements of student progress that are directly aligned to our state’s hard-won, rigorous academic standards.

Keep Tennessee’s hard-won, rigorous K-12 academic standards strong—and keep improving them.

  • Our Roundtable fully supports outgoing Governor Haslam’s call to “not back up one inch” in fully sustaining the hard-won academic standard improvements Tennessee has achieved through collaboration by our Governors, the Roundtable and other advocates, educators, and parents.
  • Strong state standards keep Tennessee nationally and globally competitive by ensuring our students are fully prepared for post-secondary and workforce success. For Tennessee’s economy to keep competing and winning, our K-12 standards must be fully maintained—and improved where data indicate the need—because Tennessee’s students and workforce can’t afford to fall behind.

Expand the availability of early childhood education programs for Tennessee’s youngest future workers.

  • To sustain and grow our state’s talent supply and economy beyond 2025, Tennessee must put more of our children into better position to gain and retain the advanced abilities they’ll need to succeed in post-secondary training and living-wage occupations in the next decade.
  • Because their paths to success or failure start very early, our state must work to expand effective early childhood education supports for our youngest Tennesseans, especially those from low-income and at-risk backgrounds who are most vulnerable to being left behind in our economy and workforce.

Accelerate alignment between the K-12 and post-secondary curricula that supply the high-skill, living-wage occupations in greatest demand in Tennessee’s economy.

  • To ensure they can fully meet the demands of the 21st-century global economy in which they’ll compete, Tennessee must make it as easy as possible for our students to connect the K-12 and post-secondary curricula offering them the competencies and credentials they need for workforce success.
  • Both K-12 and higher education public resource investments should support such curricula alignment at a high-priority level, and in higher amounts if necessary.

Better-coordinate Tennessee state government’s workforce-development efforts, make them more transparent to those served, and open them up to input from and involvement by our state’s job-creators.

  • The Roundtable supports greater alignment and coordination of workforce-development efforts among Tennessee’s executive branch agencies, including the Governor’s office, the Departments of Economic & Community Development and Education and Labor & Workforce Development, the State Workforce Development Board, and the TN Higher Education Commission.
  • The Roundtable calls for enhanced transparency about these economically vital state efforts, and for job-creators to receive more opportunities both to inform them and to align their own efforts with those of the state.

Policy in Action

Educating the Workforce of Tomorrow

The Roundtable partnered with the State Collaborative on Reforming Education to develop and release a brief entitled “Educating the Workforce of Tomorrow: Postsecondary And Career Readiness In Tennessee.” Intended as an informational resource for policy-makers, candidates, and advocates in business, education and communities, the brief summarizes Tennessee’s current state-, regional- and local-level responses to our state’s readiness challenges.

Educating the Workforce of Tomorrow: Action Items

Building on the full report, this one-pager lists what regional and local leaders and employers can do to start building Tennessee's workforce. Click the link above to find out what steps you can take today to start developing your talent pipeline.

Work-Based Learning

The Roundtable convened a statewide Summit meeting of 140 business and education leaders to discuss the use of Work-Based Learning (WBL) at the high school level as a way of enriching the talent pipeline into high-need industries across the state.

College Completion Academies

To date, the Roundtable has hosted 7 College Completion Academies, which are intensive two-day meetings designed to provide strategic planning support to two-year and four-year institutions and the Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology as they think through goals in key priorities.

New Skills for Youth Grant Team

The Roundtable is a member of Tennessee's NSFY Grant Team, which helped the state bring home one of ten $2 million dollar grants to focus on career readiness and increasing the number of students graduating with a degree or credential in high-skilled, in-demand industries.

Pathways Tennessee

The Roundtable is a member of the Pathways TN State Planning Team. Pathways aims to provide Tennessee students rigorous academic/career pathways, which are linked to economic and labor market needs and trends.

TN Reconnect Grant

The Roundtable Foundation received a $350,000 grant from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help adults “Reconnect” to finish college degrees. Due to this grant, 64,094 adult Tennesseans visited the TN Reconnect website and 8,509 visitors got information and personal assistance toward re-enrollment.