Tag Archives: jobs

Haslam to high school kids: Go to work in construction business

A year after he signed the enabling legislation into law, Gov. Bill Haslam joined construction industry leaders Wednesday in launching a marketing campaign called “Go Build Tennessee” to encourage high school students to consider careers in the building trades, reports Richard Locker.

Tennessee is the third state with a similar program, following Alabama, where it began in 2010, and Georgia, in 2012. It uses an array of media, public relations and outreach efforts targeting students as early as junior high to consider careers as boilermakers, carpenters, electricians, electric linemen, equipment operators, iron workers, masons, plumbers and pipe fitters, road builders, sheet metal workers, welders and other trades.

Haslam said that for every five skilled tradesmen about to retire, only one new worker is in the, education, training and apprenticeship pipeline to replace them. And he said the construction industry is expected to grow 22 percent over the next decade.

“For anybody who’s seen the growth happening in Nashville and across the state, the challenge for us is … across all the different aspects of construction,” the governor said. “What we hope this effort will do is help young people know, ‘Hey, that’s a great career opportunity for me and something I should think seriously about,’ because it’s a realistic career path that can provide a great occupation.”

State lawmakers in 2015 approved the “Go Build Tennessee Act,” creating a nonprofit corporation and board to run the program and diverting about $3 million in surplus contractor-licensing fees collected by the state into the program, over the next three years to pay for it. The bill was proposed and lobbied for by the Tennessee Associated General Contractors, Associated Builders and Contractors of Tennessee, the Home Builders Association of Tennessee, and the Tennessee Road Builders Association.

Report says automation could replace half TN workforce

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A report released by the state of Tennessee suggests that up to 1.4 million people are at risk of losing their jobs to automation.

Citing a study by the Center for Economic Research in Tennessee, the Knoxville News Sentinel (http://bit.ly/22qNbBD ) reports that automation could replace nearly 50 percent of the state’s workforce.

The findings were published on the Tennessee Workforce Disruption Index last week. According to the report, automation would change the way the workplace is configured and would make new demands on educational facilities. The report stated that automation will not eliminate labor, but it is likely to reshape the distribution of jobs. It stated that new jobs will be created and people will shift toward existing jobs that require high-level skills.

Randy Boyd, the commissioner of the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development, said that a massive loss of jobs could be avoided by shifting educational resources and by training workers for new career opportunities. He said the people who are most at risk of losing jobs are those who don’t have post-secondary skills.

To address the issue, Boyd said that the department’s solution is its Drive to 55 initiative. He said the initiative can raise post-secondary educational attainment in the state from 37 percent of the population to about 55 percent and could generate $9.3 billion annually.

“So if we fail, it’s cataclysmic,” he said. “If we succeed, it’s glorious.”

The report also concluded that among 12 Southeast states, Tennessee is ninth-most vulnerable to future workforce disruption.

House joins Senate to repeal Nashville local hiring law

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Republican-controlled state House gave final approval Thursday to a bill nullifying a local hiring requirement approved by Nashville voters last year, sending the measure to Gov. Bill Haslam’s desk.

The ballot measure that earned 58 percent of the vote in August requires contractors on public construction projects worth more than $100,000 to assign at least 40 percent of work hours to employees who live within the city — and that 10 percent go to low-income residents.

But Republican in the Legislature were quick to bring legislation to block those rules, arguing that the local hiring requirement discriminates against workers living in surrounding counties.

The bill sponsored by Republican Rep. Pat Marsh of Shelbyville was approved on a 72-20 vote. The Senate earlier in the week passed the bill on a 27-5 vote. He said Nashville’s rules would lead to higher construction costs, building delays and more bureaucracy.

“This will ensure that Tennessee has consistent hiring policies and practices for the construction industry all across the state,” Marsh said.

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry said in a statement after the vote that she was disappointed in the Legislature for “overturning the will of the voters.”
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Senate votes to nullify Nashville local hiring law

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Republican-controlled state Senate has voted to nullify a local hiring requirement approved by Nashville voters last year.

The bill sponsored by Republican Sen. Jack Johnson of neighboring Williamson County (SB2103) was approved on a 27-5 vote on Monday. Johnson said the measure discriminates against workers living in surrounding counties.

The ballot measure that earned 58 percent of the vote in August requires contractors on public construction projects worth more than $100,000 to assign at least 40 percent of work hours to employees who live within the city, and that 10 percent go to low-income residents.

Sen. Steve Dickerson of Nashville said he voted against the measure at the polls last year but opposed overturning the result through legislation.

The House is scheduled to vote on the bill on Wednesday.

State terminates $800K adult education contract

The state Department of Labor and Workforce Development is ending its contract with Shelby County Schools to provide funding for adult education classes, citing low enrollment and graduation rates and uprooting at least 800 students mid-term.

Further from the Commercial Appeal:

The students, who currently attend Messick Adult Center for high school equivalency and English language learning classes, will be able to finish their coursework with nonprofit HopeWorks starting Monday.

…The termination letter, dated Feb. 4, states the contract can be ended “without cause” and does not give a reason for ending the grant. But an emailed statement to The Commercial Appeal from the state office’s Division of Adult Education said SCS has only been enrolling a fraction of students in the county who qualify for adult education, and only a fraction of those are graduating.

Labor department spokesman Chris Cannon said in the email the state notified SCS of the termination of the $805,122 contract last week, but it was not sudden.

“This has been an ongoing, year-long dialogue with Shelby County Schools regarding their performance which has now culminated in a 30-day notice of termination of their contract,” Cannon said. “Each day this decision was prolonged was a day that could have been utilized to improve the program for the citizens of Shelby County. After numerous exhaustive efforts to bring about improvement, termination of the contract was the only option left available.”

In a statement Tuesday, SCS reiterated that the state communication cited no cause for the contract’s termination.

“The District is unaware of any further concerns on behalf of the state regarding Messick,” SCS said.

Students and teachers were notified of the program closing last week.

TN unemployment rate 5.7 percent in September

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — State officials say Tennessee’s unemployment rate for September remained at 5.7 percent for the fourth consecutive month.

Tennessee Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Burns Phillips said Thursday that over the past year, the state’s unemployment rate decreased from 6.6 percent to 5.7 percent, while the national rate declined from 5.9 percent to 5.1 percent.

The number of unemployed individuals in Tennessee is the lowest since February 2008.

Total nonfarm employment increased by 1,900 jobs from August to September.

The largest increases occurred in state government, educational services and professional/business services.

ECD says ‘low-cost labor’ in tune with ‘high quality jobs’

State economic development officials said Thursday there’s no conflict in their agency’s goal of recruiting “high quality jobs” to the state and its marketing of Tennessee as “low-cost labor force,” reports Richard Locker.

The agency’s assistant commissioner for communications and marketing, Clint Brewer, said Thursday that “selling the state’s low-cost labor force and recruiting high-quality jobs do not conflict. Tennessee enjoys the strategic advantage of having low-cost labor because it costs less to live here than it does in most states, (and) our debt per capita is low as are our taxes.

“The cost of labor is measured nationally by comparing labor costs between states. The quality of a job is measured at the local level in the context of a state’s cost of living and the average wage within a county. A high-quality job in New York or California will pay more than that same high quality job in Tennessee. Within the context of Tennessee’s costs of living, it is still a high-quality job,” he said.

The state is evaluating its placement of foreign representatives as contracts for existing offices either have just expired or will soon in Mexico, Japan, the United Kingdom, Canada and China. The RFI seeks responses, by Sept. 21, for representatives in the U.K. and Western Europe, Korea, Italy, Germany, Eastern Europe, China and Brazil.

Haslam promotes ‘low-cost labor’ to foreign investors

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — While Republican Gov. Bill Haslam often states his goal of bringing “high-quality jobs” to Tennessee, a document produced by his administration suggests he may be less interested in making them high-paying positions.

The Commercial Appeal newspaper reports (http://bit.ly/1Q9mXcR ) that the Haslam administration is touting the state internationally as a place with a “low-cost labor force” and “very low unionization rates.”

That description is part of a request for information posted on the state’s website on Monday for people and firms in Europe, Asia and South America interested in representing Tennessee’s economic development goals with foreign companies.

“Tennessee is proud to be a right-to-work state with a low-cost labor force and no personal income tax on wages,” according to the document. “Our state and local tax burdens are some of the lowest in the region. We have the lowest debt per capita in the region and very low unionization rates — factors which continue to make our state attractive for foreign direct investment.”

Clint Brewer, a spokesman for the state Department of Economic and Community Development, said the that the state’s “labor cost is low, in part, because our state’s cost of living is one of the lowest in the country, ranking 8th lowest among all 50 states.

“Tennessee’s overall cost of living is 9.5 percentage points below the national average, and housing costs are 21.1 percentage points below the national average,” Brewer said in an email. “This is a selling point for companies selecting Tennessee versus other states.”

Haslam has been a vocal critic of the United Auto Workers’ efforts to gain collective bargaining rights at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, arguing that it would hurt efforts to lure foreign companies to Tennessee.

Leaked documents last year showed that the Haslam administration tried to make the state share of a $300 million incentive package for Volkswagen to expand its plant contingent on labor talks “being concluded to the satisfaction” of the state. Haslam at the time declined to specify which scenarios would have satisfied the state.

The incentive deal struck later in the year to add production of a new SUV at the plant did not include the labor provisions.

UAW officials at the General Motors plant in Spring Hill have touted the union’s efforts in both restarting production at the factory after the Great Recession and for bringing jobs to Tennessee that would have otherwise gone to the automaker’s plants in Mexico.

And Democratic Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear has made Tennessee’s anti-union stance a sales point for his state.

“We have an open-door policy and welcome companies no matter what their desires may be in terms of labor-management relationships,” Beshear said earlier this year. “We don’t try to dictate what that relationship should be. We think that’s up to the company and to the employees.”

Brewer, the economic development spokesman, said that the state’s stance on unions is a selling point abroad.

“Low-unionization rates in Tennessee are also attractive to companies even if they come from a heavily unionized country,” he said. “Our recruitment and that of other right-to-work states shows that to be true. ”

Further, from the cited CA story:

The RFI seeks responses for representatives in seven regions: the United Kingdom and Western Europe, Korea, Italy, Germany, Eastern Europe, China and Brazil. It asks responders for details on the services they would provide, including how they would identify companies that might be recruited to Tennessee; how they would call on companies and sell the benefits of locating or expanding in Tennessee; how many leads they would approach in a month, a quarter and a year; how they would develop a priority customer or lead list, and how often they would expect ECD staffers to visit companies, trade shows and conferences in their regions.

State offering high school equivalency tests for free

News release from Department of Labor and Workforce Development
NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development is now giving students who left high school before graduating the opportunity to earn their high school equivalency diploma at no cost.

“This is a real game changer for those who need this credential to get a job,” said Jason Beard, Administrator of the Adult Education Program. “Our target is to have diplomas in the hands of 5,000 graduates by the end of the year, and we know removing the test fee is a great incentive to meet our goal.”

The state of Tennessee offers two test options to earn a high school equivalency diploma. The HiSet is managed by the nonprofit organization Educational Testing Service, and the GED is administered by Pearson Education. The HiSet’s original cost is $75 compared with $125 for the GED.

In order to reach as many potential graduates as possible, the HiSet will be the only test offered at no cost by the Adult Education program. Once a student passes either the HiSet or GED, an official state high school equivalency diploma is issued that does not make reference to which test was taken.

According to the American Community Survey, approximately 700,000 Tennesseans have less than a high school diploma. National figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (graphic below) show employment opportunity and income increase significantly with educational achievements. Anyone interested in earning their Tennessee High School Equivalency Diploma should contact their local Adult Education office to get started. Free preparatory classes are available throughout the state of Tennessee and online resources are also available.

For more general information on eligibility and testing, visit Adult Education’s website at http://www.tn.gov/workforce/topic/high-school-testing or call 800-531-1515 for assistance in finding a local program. – See more at: https://www.tn.gov/workforce/news/17143#sthash.t8o527IA.dpuf

Republicans ready to repeal Nashville’s ‘local hire’ measure

Tennessee GOP lawmakers who’ve in the past taken steps to thwart locally enacted economic regulations that exceed state and federal requirements say they’re undeniably rubbed the wrong way by Metro Nashville voters approving a “local hire” measure earlier this month, according to TNReport.

And that may very well result in the General Assembly taking a vote of its own on Amendment 3 after the Legislature convenes for its 2016 session.

Jack Johnson, chairman of the state Senate Commerce and Labor Committee, told TNReport last week he basically loathes the ballot measure local voters approved by a large margin on Aug. 6.

“It’s awful. It’s awful,” the Williamson County lawmaker said of Amendment 3.

“It is a very, very bad and dangerous precedent for a political subdivision in the state of Tennessee like Metro Nashville to be enacting these types of policies that are hostile toward business, hostile toward economic growth,” said Johnson. “And so I do expect the General Assembly to take a good look at it when we reconvene.”

Amendment 3 earned 58 percent of the vote in the election, and it was the only question on the ballot to win consent.

…Amendment 3’s supporters argued that it will help fight local poverty and alleviate joblessness. Opponents say it will expand government bureaucracy and balloon construction costs.

Gov. Bill Haslam indicated after the election that he, like outgoing Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, considers himself in the latter camp. Haslam told TNReport last week that he regards the measure as “problematic.”

“I just don’t think that there is any doubt that it will make projects more expensive and take them longer to get done,” said the governor, although he added that he is uncertain at this time what, if anything, the state will do in response.

Johnson noted that the Legislature under Republican leadership over the past several years has shown a willingness to thwart local regulatory efforts deemed damaging to the state’s pro-business reputation.

“I understand that the voters of Nashville approved it, but still, we have to look at the state in totality in terms of our economic progress, and we can’t have these bad policies being implemented, especially in our state capital,” said Johnson.