The Highlands Workforce Development and Education Program Steering Committee was formed to address recommendations from two studies. The first Study, “Improving High School Graduation Rates among At-Risk Students”, was conducted March 2007-January 2008 for and with Jackson, Overton, Putnam, and White County Schools in partnership with Tennessee Technological University. The second study was the Labor Market Assessment for the Highlands of Tennessee, which was conducted in November 2009 by Wadley-Donovan GrowthTech, LLC of Springfield, New Jersey. The Steering Committee established subcomittees to take action on goals and objectives based on the recommendations of the two studies and based on the needs of area employers seeking a highly trained and skilled workforce.
The Highlands Workforce Development and Education Program of Work, guided by the Steering Committee, provided the foundation that led to joining Tennessee’s Pathways to Prosperity Network and Tennessee Higher Education Commission’s Tennessee Reconnect Communities. The collaboration among business, industry, community organizations, K-12 education, and post-secondary education allowed the Highlands Economic Partnership to become the first to implement Pathways to Prosperity and an Upper Cumberland Tennessee Reconnect Community.