In this interview, Governor Bill Haslam addresses a growing concern among businesses and government leaders in Tennessee -- a workforce that falls short of the educational needs to do the jobs.
Some of the problems include:
- By the year 2025, only 39 percent of adult Tennesseans will have a college degree or professional certification.
- 70 percent of Tennessee's current high school graduates need remedial math and English classes when they enter college, setting them back in both time and money, which increases the college dropout rate.
- The job market is changing in Tennessee. Haslam points to the growing auto industry here. With advances in automation and technology, the kinds of available jobs in the future will require less manual labor and more specialized skills.
- Tennessee ranks 42nd in working adults with a two-year degree or higher, which would be a concern for businesses looking to move here.
The governor has launched a new initiative called "Drive to 55" which takes a multi-faceted approach to increasing the number of students getting a higher education.
It includes online classes through WGU (Western Governors University) and Coursera, scholarships through TnAchieves and better remedial preparation in public schools. Haslam says they are still looking for more ways to make going back to school lucrative and convenient for older students.