Business, education partnerships are helping Williamson County students | Opinion
Two months into the school year is a good reminder of the role talent plays in successful economic development.
With an unemployment rate at historically low levels, access to skilled talent is the most important attribute of a community.
In addition, automation has created an uneasiness among workers, especially lower-skilled workers, and it is clear the exponential growth of technology in the workplace will continue to have an impact on productivity and staffing levels.
For this reason, providing students with real-world, immersive work experience is one of the best things Williamson, Inc. can do for the next generation of employees.
Williamson, Inc. combines both the Williamson County chamber of commerce and the office of economic development.
As technology evolves and conditions change, Williamson, Inc.’s role in Williamson County continues to develop to meet the changing demands of the workplace.
Williamson County Schools Superintendent Dr. Mike Looney preaches the four Rs:
In addition to growing Williamson County’s economy in a strategic way to create career opportunities for Williamson County’s children and grandchildren, our role as an economic development organization now centers on talent development.
Today, talent development is economic development. Talent development starts even earlier and involves creating relationships and relevance for students by connecting them to workplaces and employers.
Preparing students for the future
Our partnerships with Franklin Special School District and Williamson County Schools are strong and critical to the future of Williamson County. Two recent examples highlight the importance of community partnerships to create relevancy for students.
Williamson, Inc. helped introduce an Unmanned Aerial Systems program at Nolensville High through a partnership with our business community and Snaproll Media, a pioneering drone company in the film industry and a Williamson, Inc. member.
Recently, two Nolensville High students have become the first certified drone pilots to come out of the program. They have even launched their own business, Next Generation Filming, that offers aerial photos to local real estate offices.
In addition to our work at Nolensville High, we played a key role in the creation of a mechatronics program at Fairview High. Williamson, Inc. contributed to the buildout of a classroom in the high school that now serves as a lab to give students hands on experience in mechatronics.
Through another partnership with one of our members, APCOM, we helped create internship opportunities for Fairview High students.
Thanks to the efforts of our state legislative delegation, funding for scholarships for the program for the next two years was secured during the previous state legislative session.
This first of its kind high-school program was recently named the Tennessee Association for Career and Technical Education secondary program of the year.
Although large corporate relocations generate headlines, we take even more pride in creating partnerships like these to grow our economy one small business at a time and provide career experience for Williamson County students.
Our small business community plays an important role in Williamson County’s economic success. In fact, 90 percent of our members are small businesses with between one and 10 employees, and those businesses benefit greatly when a large employer like Nissan comes to town.
Nissan and their 1,800 employees create opportunities for our small business community to serve those employees. A strong pro-business environment is good for large and small business alike, and both kinds of businesses rely on a pipeline of talent to fuel their success.
Partnerships between the business and education community will continue to be a focus of our economic development efforts at Williamson, Inc. I am proud that we house a WCS employee in our office during the week and that we have an employee of FSSD attend our weekly team meeting on Monday mornings.
Williamson, Inc. is focused on providing career opportunities for our friends, family and neighbors and helping to create pathways for WCS students to get real-world experience.
Matt Largen is president and CEO of Williamson, Inc.[Read more at The Tennessean]