FROM VIABLE PATHWAY PROGRAMS TO THRIVING WAGE CAREERS

By Andrew Hudson, Chattanooga 2.0 Director of Viable Pathways

 

Chattanooga 2.0 is actively building 10 career pathways with community partners to create clear, defined pathways to careers with thriving starting wages. Known as Viable Pathways to Prosperity, these pathways remove barriers for public school youth and provide debt-free industry-informed training (degrees or credentials) that leads to high-demand career opportunities in Hamilton County. Viable pathways redefine traditional career paths by addressing an ongoing disconnect between today’s workforce development methods and tomorrow’s workforce needs. 

 

WHAT IS A VIABLE PATHWAY?

Viable Pathways are defined by distinct characteristics to remove barriers for Hamilton County youth and provide debt-free tracks to thriving wage careers:

1. Thriving Wage Job: The pathways lead to a thriving-wage starting job ($50k or higher) with clear opportunities for advancement.

2. Employers Co-build and Support: The pathways proactively target employer needs and growing industries. Local employers are committed to supporting and interviewing students.

3. Industry-Informed Training: The pathways offer innovative training beyond high school that is directly informed by local employers’ skill needs.

4. Career Exploration and Inspiration: The pathways are promoted from upper elementary school to high school so students and their families are provided high quality choices for thriving futures.

5. Remove All Barriers: The pathways provide extensive wraparound support to students, with personalized advising to get students in and through a Viable Pathway to a job. This includes a seamless journey across all major transitions (high school to postsecondary training to career). 

 

Viable Pathways Differ From Existing Workforce Development Strategies In Two Key Ways: 

1. The academic, wraparound, and financial supports students receive to support them to and through training and a starting, thriving wage job. 

2. The workforce development tools are directly linked to actual jobs with employers here in Hamilton County. 

 

CHATTANOOGA 2.0 HAS SET A BOLD GOAL OF CREATING 10 VIABLE PATHWAYS BY 2027.

Currently, three pathways are available: lineworking, welding, and data analytics. Each of these pathways has been custom-built to provide industry-informed training and learning experiences that prepare students for high-demand careers with local employers. Students have reliable pathways through a complicated system that includes wraparound supports to get them in and through to a promising career.

 

Nasir Johnson and Najee Laboo, currently apprentices with IBEW Local 175, completed their electrical lineman training at the Southeast Lineman Training Center through the Lineworker Pathway and AABE New Heights Scholarship Program this winter. 

 

The inaugural welding cohort completed their training and were recognized in a graduation ceremony on June 29. All 16 graduates are recent high school graduates from East Ridge High School, Brainerd High School, and Tyner High School. The industry-aligned training includes a focus on essential skills such as time management, financial literacy, team building, conflict resolution, and professional branding, as well as technical training on MIG welding from industry experts. At the end of the month-long training, all 16 graduates were offered interviews with two welding companies. 

There are also plans underway to introduce additional pathways in other high-needs, high-wage areas such as nursing, cybersecurity, and K-12 teaching. 

 

 

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Working together, we can get more people into higher-earning career paths and build a stronger and more inclusive economy that meets everyone’s needs. It’s about our kids, our jobs, and our future.

  • Share the opportunity! We continue to partner with industries to build new pathways and opportunities and will be recruiting for other pathways in the future! If you know of a student who may be interested in the lineworker, welding, or data analysis pathways, follow us on social media to watch for announcements of new cohorts.
  • Help build a pathway to meet your talent needs and support our local students. If you are an employer interested in joining the movement, please reach out to Andrew Hudson, andrew@chatt2.org

 

Learn more at our new Viable Pathways webpage www.chatt2.org/viable-pathways 

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