Complete Tennessee Leadership Academy: Building Our Future Workforce

Nashville, TN

Tennessee strives to be a national leader in connecting our postsecondary education opportunities to workforce demands.  The third session of the Complete Tennessee Leadership Academy (CTLA), held in Nashville in January 2017, examined practices and policies helping drive innovation both in Northern Middle Tennessee and across the state.

Nancy Eisenbrandt, Chief Operating Officer of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, set the stage by discussing the past, present, and future of workforce development in Northern Middle Tennessee, the largest economic market in the state.  Complete Tennessee Board Chairman Randy Boyd then shared the history and workforce-development benefits of the Tennessee Promise-- the first state-wide free community and technical college program in the nation. 

Leaders from the Rutherford Works mechatronics program spoke with participants about the workforce need for skilled manufacturers and how Rutherford County effectively answered the call through work-based learning.  The panel was followed by a tour of the Nissan vehicle and battery manufacturing plant in Smyrna and the newest site of the Tennessee College of Applied Technology Murfreesboro— the Smyrna Location and Nissan Training Center.

The session closed with a panel on Politics of Higher Education that included State Representative Harry Brooks, chair of the House Committee on Education Administration and Planning and  State Representative John Forgety, chair of the House Committee on Education Instruction and Programs.  The lawmakers and stakeholders provided a candid discussion with CTLA participants and sparked important conversations regarding how policy and practice are both integral to strengthening Tennessee’s postsecondary attainment rates.

Strengthening and reforming Tennessee’s postsecondary education system is in vain if not aligned with workforce demands.  Students deserve rigorous education programs that promote both self-discovery and development as well as market viability and relevance.  Complete Tennessee strives to facilitate conversations and highlight innovations that do just that in order to help our state reach both it’sits education and economic development goals.