Strengthening Tennessee’s Workforce Through Collaboration

Tennessee leaders unite to enhance career and technical education programs.

In a significant gathering aimed at bolstering the state’s workforce development, over 250 leaders from the realms of business, industry, and Tennessee’s public community and technical colleges convened at Volunteer State Community College. This assembly marked the inaugural Tennessee Workforce Convening, which took place on Monday, April 22. The event was orchestrated by the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD) and the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD).

The primary objective of the convening was to foster a deeper level of communication and collaboration among the participating entities. By engaging directly with leaders from various sectors, the initiative sought to gather insights on how the state’s educational institutions and government agencies could more effectively prepare students for the workforce, thereby enhancing their economic mobility.

Distinguished speakers at the event included Governor Bill Lee, TBR Chancellor Flora W. Tydings, TNECD Commissioner Stuart McWhorter, and TDLWD Commissioner Deniece Thomas. Each highlighted existing workforce training programs and initiatives, emphasizing the potential for expanded career opportunities for Tennesseans through increased collaboration. Among the initiatives spotlighted was the TBR Center for Apprenticeship and the TBR Center for Workforce Development.

The convening facilitated discussions between executives from six key sectors of Tennessee’s economy—advanced manufacturing, agriculture, business, health care, information technology, and transportation/logistics—and leaders from colleges, the TBR system, and state departments. These dialogues aimed at identifying ways to better prepare students and current employees for high-demand careers.

Chancellor Tydings expressed gratitude for the constructive engagement and valuable feedback received during the event, underscoring its alignment with the systemwide mission of student success and workforce development. Commissioner McWhorter highlighted the importance of workforce as a critical component of the state’s competitive edge, while Commissioner Thomas detailed her department’s efforts in connecting Tennesseans and employers through various programs, including the Youth Employment Program and Apprenticeship TN.

For further information on the TBR Center for Workforce Development, interested parties can visit []( The College System of Tennessee, governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents, is the state’s largest public higher education system, serving approximately 140,000 students across 13 community colleges, 24 colleges of applied technology, and the online TN eCampus.

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