Nashville Chamber Partners to Prepare Students for the Future with Industry Certifications

Education is a top priority for the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce.

We focus on education because a strong public school system attracts families to a community and a talented workforce is necessary to attract employers for expansion and relocation.

When we invest in public education, we are investing in the future economic prosperity of our region. 

We are particularly proud of our support of the Academies of Nashville. Since 2006, Metro Nashville Public Schools, the Chamber, PENCIL Foundation and Alignment Nashville have worked together to support this initiative at Metro Nashville Public Schools' 12 zoned high schools that prepare students for careers, or post-secondary education, thru the lens of a specific industry. In fact, there are more than 40 different academies for students to choose from.

Academies of Nashville students at Maplewood High School

Furthermore, through a grant from the Scarlett Family Foundation, the Chamber, PENCIL Foundation and MNPS have worked to provide industry certification opportunities through the Academies of Nashville. Now, students in selected academies can take industry certification exams with real-world impact on their appeal to employers.

Some of the credentials and certifications offered are:

  • Adobe Certified Expert: Premiere Pro (Broadcasting Academy)
  • Adobe Certified Associate: Creative Suite (Digital Arts and Design)
  • Certified Medical Administrative Assistant, Health Records Specialist, Associate in Healthcare Information and Management Systems (Healthcare Administration)
  • Certified Clinical Medial Assistant or Certified EKG Technician (Diagnostic Services)
  • ABC Card, ProStart, or ServSafe (Culinary Arts)
  • OSHA 10 (various academies)
  • Autodesk CAD Certified User (various academies)
  • And many more. You can find a full list here.

In the first half of 2017, the Academies of Nashville saw a dramatic 60% increase in students taking these industry certification exams. The pass rate increased to 59% from 47% the past year, and the number of students that earned industry certifications more than doubled with 415 passing this year.

We’ve also worked with the city’s five industry partnership councils, business leaders and higher education representatives in specific industries to determine which certifications are most valuable to employers and post-secondary institutions. The Saint Thomas Health Scholars program is one example of high impact certification opportunity that was established as a part of the grant partnership. Nearly 100 students enrolled in an MNPS health academy have had the opportunity for one-on-one mentorships from Saint Thomas health care professionals to help prepare them for their industry certifications, potential employment immediately following high school as patient care technicians (earning an average of $15 an hour) and college scholarship funding. As the industry certification mentorships grow and expand, we expect that even more students will earn certifications that make them more competitive and employable candidates.

Beginning in December 2018, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires states to rate schools. In Tennessee, schools will receive a letter (A-F) grade. For high schools, 25% of this grade will be based on the Ready Graduate Indicator which includes Early Postsecondary Opportunities (EPSOs) such as industry certifications, dual enrollment, advance placement and more. The Academies of Nashville are positioned for success in this area thanks to the certification efforts taking place over the past three years. 

We are also encouraged by the Metro Schools 2017-2018 budget investment in EPSOs and the passage of Senate Joint Resolution 107 signed by Gov. Haslam in April 2017. This resolution requested the Department of Education and State Board of Education to study and report on the best practices of states around the country for funding programs focused on career preparation and to provide postsecondary opportunities for school districts in Tennessee by March 2018. 

Our goal is to make sure every student in MNPS public schools can find gainful employment, or matriculate into post-secondary education, after graduation resulting in college and career ready grads.

To get involved with the Chamber’s efforts surrounding education, you can learn more about membership and join one of our education committees.

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