Tennessee Won’t Brag About D- Grade In Worker Training, But Not Bad For The South

A new economic report card from Ball State University in Indiana gives high marks to Tennessee’s manufacturing sector, but it also criticizes the low level of education in the state’s workforce.

Governor Bill Haslam watches a student at the Tennessee Technology Center in Nashville in 2011. Haslam wants to expand the reach of TTCs, which will soon change their name to Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology. Credit: Bill Haslam/Flickr

Governor Bill Haslam watches a student at the Tennessee Technology Center in Nashville in 2011. Haslam wants to expand the reach of TTCs, which will soon change their name to Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology. Credit: Bill Haslam/Flickr

Around six percent of Tennesseans have an associates degree. That number is way too low, according to the Ball State report card. Researchers were especially interested in the number residents with two-year degrees, since that’s where most workers learn skills needed in manufacturing jobs. They also looked at the number of adults who stick with community and technical colleges after their first year and how many associates degrees are awarded annually.

On those points, Tennessee gets a D minus. Still, that’s better than most of the state’s neighbors. Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas all received Fs.

Tennessee is looking at different approaches to the problem. Today, the Board of Regents approved new workforce training programs at several community colleges. The state is also partnering with Nissan to build a training center in Smyrna, for manufacturing jobs that involve robotics and other complex machinery.

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