Tag Archives: skills

Norris leads Legislature in Taking a LEAP

In a trip to Germany last November, Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris was impressed with BMW’s long-running apprenticeship program, which retains more than 90 percent of its recruits for careers at the company, reports Richard Locker. Gov. Bill Haslam, meanwhile, has been talking up the notion of having state schools do more to train students in job-specific skills for businesses.
Norris, a lawyer, drafted a bill himself to try to accomplish that, enacting the Labor Education Alignment Program, or LEAP, that he and others shepherded through the General Assembly this year with the backing of the Haslam administration and the state’s higher education governing boards.
LEAP is a statewide comprehensive program to provide students at community colleges and the former Tennessee Technology Centers — which were renamed Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology on July 1 — the opportunity to combine occupational training in a high-skill or high-tech industry with academic credit applied toward post-high-school credentials. Students would take academic courses tailored for careers and work in paid apprenticeships and get academic credit for both.
…Norris said he believes LEAP was one of the most significant programs enacted by the 2013 legislature, even if it received little publicity.
“It’s work, earn and learn. The goal is to increase the percentage of Tennesseans with a postsecondary credential — an associate degree or higher — from 32 percent now to 55 percent by 2025,” Norris said.
That’s the goal of Haslam’s “Drive to 55” initiative, in which he cites studies showing that by 2025, at least 55 percent of jobs in the state will require some level of higher education. “The risk is that Tennessee doesn’t prepare the graduates that we need for the workforce and all these businesses that we’re recruiting go somewhere else. It’s really that simple,” the governor told business and education leaders when he kicked off the series of discussions last July at the governor’s residence.
The new LEAP law requires a curriculum focused on high-skill jobs, emerging occupations and skilled manufacturing jobs, including advanced manufacturing, electronics, information technology, infrastructure engineering, and transportation and logistics. Some will be offered to students starting in 2014.
Norris said he believes LEAP was one of the most significant programs enacted by the 2013 legislature, even if it received little publicity.
“It’s work, earn and learn. The goal is to increase the percentage of Tennesseans with a postsecondary credential — an associate degree or higher — from 32 percent now to 55 percent by 2025,” Norris said.
That’s the goal of Haslam’s “Drive to 55” initiative, in which he cites studies showing that by 2025, at least 55 percent of jobs in the state will require some level of higher education. “The risk is that Tennessee doesn’t prepare the graduates that we need for the workforce and all these businesses that we’re recruiting go somewhere else. It’s really that simple,” the governor told business and education leaders when he kicked off the series of discussions last July at the governor’s residence.
The new LEAP law requires a curriculum focused on high-skill jobs, emerging occupations and skilled manufacturing jobs, including advanced manufacturing, electronics, information technology, infrastructure engineering, and transportation and logistics. Some will be offered to students starting in 2014.