Talent Dividend Work

Investing in talent to help employers solve problems

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College completion is itself a worthy goal, but if college graduates are not prepared for existing jobs, the Talent Dividend – increased salaries and better economic health for a region – may not be fully realized. That's why so many cities, including Nashville, are pairing Talent Dividend efforts with existing workforce development programs.

In Tennessee, health care management is a flourishing sector of the economy. But there's been a disconnect between the curriculum of the state's community colleges and universities and the jobs the region's employers need to fill – specifically, those in information technology for health care applications. In fact, across all sectors statewide, 800 to 1200 IT positions go unfilled per year.
To meet the growing demand for workers with IT and health care training, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce along with the Nashville Health Care Council, Nashville Technology Council, health care IT employers and higher education institutions from Middle TN, Southern Kentucky and Northern Alabama have met to develop strategies to increase the number of graduates and workers with this in-demand training.
"We want to make sure we are ahead of the curve in helping businesses find a way to solve the problem," says Rebecca Leslie, vice president of Talent Recruitment and Retention for the Nashville Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber is researching how best they can do that, along with business and community partners. 

A plan has emerged to create "Regional Centers of Excellence" around sectors that are seeing high job growth, health care and IT included. Each center will have its own Regional Skills Panel -- a coalition of employers, workforce and economic development leaders, and educational institutions working together to analyze real-time data and determine the skills Nasvhille employers need the most. 

"The goal is to form business skills panels which will provide a deep understanding of what the state's community colleges and technology centers can do to closely meet what skills are needed in terms of degrees," says Nancy Eisenbrandt, COO of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce.

Aligning curriculum with employer needs will help students, too, by providing them with more information on the labor market, enabling better decisions about education tracks that will lead directly to jobs, and encouraging contextual learning through internships and co-ops. And in the end, success will be measured by the number of students that complete degrees and certificates.
"Everyone has done a tremendous amount of work to get a diverse group of individuals to agree on a course of action and strategies to work together rather than individually," Eisenbrandt says. 

Source: Nancy Eisenbrandt and Rebecca Leslie, Nasvhille Chamber of Commerce
Writer: Amy Kuras 
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