Tennessee Celebrates Career Development Month

Monday, November 09, 2020 | 03:45pm


Spotlight on How Tennessee is Preparing Students for College and Career


NASHVILLE, TN—As part of national career development month, the Tennessee Department of Education, in collaboration with districts and schools, is highlighting programs and opportunities across the state that help to prepare students for college and career, with a focus on youth apprenticeship programs and early post-secondary opportunities.   

November 9-13 is Apprenticeship Week and the 5th Annual Tennessee Early Post-Secondary Opportunities Week. Across the state, schools and districts will spotlight and promote these opportunities for students through various activities and events. The department encourages schools, educators and districts to join in highlighting their work by sharing on social media using #NationalApprenticeshipWeek or #EPSOWeek2020.  

“Tennessee is committed to preparing students to graduate high school ready for college and career,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “All students benefit from having access to opportunities that help them explore career options and start earning post-secondary credit or an industry credential while still in high school. Tennessee offers a robust, wide variety of opportunities that provide pathways to careers in high-demand jobs and fulfill local workforce needs. This week, we are proud to highlight so many of these amazing apprenticeship and early post-secondary opportunities because they help prepare students with the skills and knowledge they need to be successful.” 

Tennessee's Youth Apprenticeship Programs allow high school students to participate in a capstone work-based learning experience, earn post-secondary credits, and, upon completion of the program, receive a nationally-recognized industry credential. This earn-and-learn model prepares students for post-secondary education and the workforce unlike any other cooperative education program. 

In Tennessee, there are currently five registered apprenticeships available to high school students. Tennessee Governor Lee proclaimed November 9-15, 2020 as Apprenticeship Week in Tennessee to emphasize the important work apprenticeships play in post-secondary preparation. 

During National Apprenticeship Week, the department will showcase registered apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs to highlight how they are helping students be college and career ready. Apprenticeship programs prepare students with hands-on work experiences and help meet the need of the local economy for a skilled workforce. 

Dr. Rebecca Campbell, Jefferson County Schools CTE Director about their welding apprenticeship program: "I believe in apprenticeships and know that these opportunities will continue to grow throughout the state.  Students not only learn technical skills and earn money and credit, but they also build important life skills such as teamwork, work ethic, conflict resolution in the workplace, dependability, and have the opportunity to try a career that he or she may have not considered before.” 

Dr. Mike Winstead, Director of Maryville Schools said about their Tennessee Valley Youth Apprenticeship Program: “The TVYA program will create a pipeline of skilled workers to meet the talent needs of area businesses. Successful apprenticeship programs recognize the importance of strong partnerships first to create the energy needed to start the program and then to work in collaboration to constantly improve and sustain relationships.”  

Another way Tennessee prepares students for college and career is by offering early post-secondary opportunities (EPSOs), which are courses that high school students can take to earn college credit. In the 2019-2020 school year, Tennessee schools offered over 29,000 EPSO opportunities. For one particular type of EPSO, statewide dual credit, over 5,500 students have banked post-secondary credit for institutions of public higher education in Tennessee at no cost to them since the program began in 2013-14. 

For example, Milan High School and TCAT Jackson have partnered for several years to bring dual enrollment courses to students in Machining Technology and Electromechanical Technology on the campus of Milan High School without having to leave the school. Students learn about these dual enrollment courses embedded into CTE programs of study during an 8th grade Career Exploration course at Milan Middle School and can begin coursework in the 9th grade at no cost to the student. 

Candi Collier, CTE Director for Milan County, shared, "We are grateful for the partnership with TCAT Jackson which allows us to offer content for in-demand careers in West Tennessee with high-quality postsecondary instructors. The fact that we can start a student on his/her path during the freshmen year is a game-changer because it is saving students money and time on their path to a degree and career." 

TCAT Shelbyville’s Information Technology and Infrastructure Management program has received state and national recognition for as a leader in CTE post-secondary education and partners with the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security to offer students real-world experience responding to simulated cyber security attacks.  

Ms. Susan Welch, CTE Director for Lincoln County, said, “Lincoln County has a strong desire to offer all of our students the opportunity to earn meaningful postsecondary credentials. IT is a strong and growing industry sector, and we are proud to be able to help students prepare for life-long work in this field.” 

To celebrate EPSO Week, a toolkit with ways to plan activities for students who are in school, virtual, or hybrid can be found here. Additionally, the department created a new competition for students to design an EPSO poster incorporating the EPSO logo. Details for the competition can be found here

For Tennessee Department of Education media inquiries, contact   Edu.MediaInquiries@tn.gov.