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One of the primary responsibilities of The Roane Alliance is to serve as Roane County’s economic development organization. The primary driver in industrial recruitment in today’s marketplace is the preparedness of the existing workforce and the ability of the community to develop students into highly skilled and professional employees, according to officials with the state of Tennessee, TVA and site selection consultant firms.
Traditionally, economic developers have focused on facilities and infrastructure in their recruitment efforts. But, more and more often, companies considering relocation are looking for a strong supply of good employees as a deciding factor.
This information has led our economic development focus to shift toward working more closely with our partners in our educational organizations: Roane County Schools, Tennessee College of Applied Technology and Roane State Community College. For Roane County to be more successful in attracting quality jobs, our workers must be prepared for the rapidly changing needs for a better trained workforce.
Roane County already has several efforts underway to meet the needs of a new generation of business and industry. One of the more ambitious and worthwhile is Middle College, a partnership between Roane State and Roane County Schools.
Middle College provides an opportunity for students to earn their associate’s degree while completing their junior and senior years in high school. Educational attainment has been a relied-upon and accurate predictor of a person’s future socio-economic conditions such as employment, physical and mental health, and level of income, among others.
The added opportunities for career options for graduates of Middle College as they progress through their education are difficult to measure now simply because there isn’t enough statistical research to show how far ahead these graduates will be toward successful careers.
I encourage all members of our community to support this partnership between Roane State and Roane County Schools for many reasons:
1. This is a significant step forward toward a better prepared workforce in Roane County.
2. This offers an incredible opportunity for students to attain the level of education required for their chosen career fields.
3. This affords parents an economical option for post-secondary education for their children (attaining an associate’s degree through Middle College would be far cheaper than the first two years of college).
While Middle College will not be the right fit for all students, and there are short-term challenges with scheduling and logistics, this is a worthwhile investment that our schools are making in the lives of our students.
I encourage you to join The Roane Alliance in support of Middle College and the leaders who are working so hard to make this happen.
The Roane Alliance