The path to a good job is no longer as clear as it once seemed to be. With high unemployment rates as the backdrop, newspaper headlines and reports raise questions about the value of a college education at the same time that companies report that they aren’t getting the skilled employees they need. Is this just part of an economic cycle, or have the rules changed?
Southern Growth Policies Board’s 2012 Chairman’s Conference, hosted by Governor Bill Haslam of Tennessee, examined job and workforce trends, with a view towards reimagining tomorrow’s educated worker. This included exploring tough questions, such as: How can we determine the skills needed for future jobs when we’re not sure what those jobs will be? How can we raise awareness of potential career paths and opportunities? What are the implications for P-16? What is the business perspective and what role will the business sector play in this preparation? And, perhaps most importantly, how do we connect the dots between different players—from K-12 to community colleges to universities to industry? In addition to exploring these and other important questions, the conference highlighted new models and ideas in the areas of education and workforce skill development.
Southern Growth Policies Board has long considered workforce issues to be key to regional prosperity. As the Southern Growth Policies Board celebrates its 40th anniversary, this conference gave us the opportunity to take a look back at what we’ve accomplished in this area of work, what has changed, and how we need to prepare for the future.