Group Studies Knoxville's Workforce

By: Stacy McCloud
By: Stacy McCloud

Knoxville (WVLT) - So how does the Knoxville area shape up when it comes to the workforce? The Knoxville Chamber Partnership hired a research firm to find out.

As Volunteer TV's Stacy McCloud tells you, the eight months of research shows several areas in need of improvement.

Comfortable is the word being using to describe Knoxville's workforce.

But that's not good enough for leaders who say the key to growth...is a strong workforce.

"Making sure you have that body of people for the next generation of people in place is what is going to continue to propel us to be successful," says Knoxville Chamber Executive Vice President Rhonda Rice.

The problem, keeping the younger generation here.

Projections show there will be a decline of employees age 18 to 35 in the Knoxville region, while the rest of the United States is projected to grow in that age group.

"The median age in Knoxville is almost three years higher than the median age in the US," says Sharon Younger, from Younger Associates.

Not something Younger says should happen in such a educationally driven area.

But that's also the good news, because the opportunity to reach out and improve is already there.

"We found that while employers rate universities very highly in the product they turn out, they're not really involved with them in an ongoing basis in work studies and recruiting on campus," Younger says.

But the concern starts at an even younger age.

When you compare Knoxville to tech forced regions around the United States, we are in the bottom of the middle tier.

Younger says improving our lower than national average math and science skills would help and is specifically important to this region.

"In a metro that has the significant assets that you have with Oak Ridge and Y-12 it's something that should really be addressed," Younger says.

There were some high points in the survey of close to 1,200 households. They include a good quality of life, good academic resources, good labor availability in many occupations, and an existing technology base.


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