SOUTHEAST, TN. (WDEF) - Educators are calling it one of the most ambitious programs ever created for putting public school students on a career path.
Community leaders and educators from 5 counties in southeast Tennessee Tuesday formally launched the "Pathways to Prosperity Initiative".
The business and education partnership could start as early as elementary school for some.
Some have complained, no one is training young people for good paying jobs like Kirkman Tech,the long-gone downtown high school used to do.
Now, leaders of 5 southeast Tennessee counties have a response----Pathways to Progress will be working with students early on to help with career choices.
The regional education now underway will involve schools in Hamilton, Marion, Bradley, and McMinn counties.
TRACEY CARISCH, MANAGING DIR.,STEM INNOVATION HUB. "We want to start educating kids on careers at a much earlier age..so that teachers and students see as early as elementary school..what are the opportunities that are out here in our regional work force."
Dr.Danielle Mezera of the Tennessee Department of Education took part in the launch of the Pathways initiative.
The state has put 223-thousand dollars into the Public Education Foundation to develop the regional program.
DR. DAN CHALLANER, PUBLIC EDUCATION FOUNDATION "We're going to reach out to businesses, connect businesses, K-12 education, higher education, Government, non-profits..general citizens and especially students."
County Mayor Jim Coppinger told the group, this is not a Hamilton county program, but a regional one.
He and Tim Spires of the Manufacturers Association are co-chairmen.
TIM SPIRES, PRES., TENNESSEE MANUFACTURERS ASSOC. "Business has been saying we need this, we need the employees that can handle the technology today...and at this time, we've had business, education and government all sit down together and say this is important for the future."
Chattanooga State and several other colleges have already taken the first steps to develop programs specifically for the needs of the new industries now operating in this area.