Programs that expand the size of the workforce will be critical to sustain Nashville’s growth, particularly as the health care sector tries to establish itself as a health tech leader.
This project turned 12 weeks on June 13, which means I’m officially describing it in “months” versus “weeks.”
That’s a crazy milestone by itself. But what’s even more astounding to me is that BirdDog already hit the readership, engagement and audience-reach milestones I had tentatively targeted for September.
I couldn’t be more excited about that.
There are some intriguing pieces, and collaborations, in the queue — including one about what this primary and general election forecast for the state’s political culture.
Those take time — as does thinking through how to scale BirdDog and decide on an underlying business model. If there was an obvious strategy for journalism then this experiment, and many more around the country, wouldn’t be happening.
Based on the time spent and resulting growth over the last three months, I think there could, perhaps, be a future for it.
Now it’s really time for biz development.
I’m evaluating a variety of structures, models and events — and frankly, that’s the fun part right now. If you want to talk about how to work with or partner on an event or just hear more about what this is and why — don’t hesitate to be in touch. A lot of my time these days is spent talking with people about their interest in and potential support for something like this.
Phase II will see the email strategy migrate to one email on Sunday with a link to original pieces as well as “The Weekender” — which you all have really taken to. If there’s something earth shattering I want to get to you faster, I’ll send an extra email. Posts will continue to go up on the website a couple of times during the week so keep checking Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or www.readbirddog.com.
I didn’t know what to expect when I clicked send on the first email on March 21. It’s exceeded all my expectations so welcome to the next part of the journey.
Holly | firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
Tennessee Reconnect, a statewide adult education initiative, could be a model to boost access to skills training in the South, per a new report that assesses whether the region is primed to close the gap that keeps workers from some well paying jobs despite historically low unemployment rates.
There aren’t enough workers in the South to fill what’s called “middle skill” jobs, which include a variety of jobs such as plumber, electrician, bookkeeper, some medical assistant positions, according to a new report from the National Skills Coalition and the Federal Reserve Banks of Atlanta and St. Louis.
The open positions have put pressure on state and private sectors to work together to ensure that potential employees have the opportunity to train for and learn the requisite skills. Tennessee’s unemployment rate stood at 3.5 percent in May.
“Employers are having a tough time finding skilled employees right now. They are feeling that squeeze right now. Once again it’s important to look at the causes behind that,” said Melissa Johnson, senior state policy analyst at the coalition and an author of the report.
Johnson said the organization wanted to take advantage of the tight labor market to determine what kinds of skills employers most need as a way to better understand the types of training or policies that need to be put in place.
Yet, a nuance of the tight labor market — and the state’s historically low level of education — is that many people are having to work more than one job to make ends meet. Not everyone feels like it’s a boom period, said Kenyatta Lovett, executive director of Complete Tennessee, a non-profit focused on postsecondary education.
For people with a high school degree or less, pre-recession employment never rebounded.
“The recession has continued and they are not able to take part in what this boom is about,” said Lovett.
In Tennessee, a worker would need to make $15.74 an hour, or work 87 hours a week at minimum wage, to afford a two-bedroom apartment, according to a new analysis by the National Low Income Housing Coalition. A one-bedroom in Tennessee would require 71 hours a week at the $7.35 minimum wage.
“We have to come to the reality that for a lot of individuals their main job doesn’t pay enough to survive and they have to take a second or third job. In most cases they are working more than one job — that drastically limits your time to achieve more education” said Lovett.
‘The cost of living is creeping up on them’
The skills report tips Tennessee Reconnect, a part of Gov. Bill Haslam’s effort to ensure 55 percent of adults have education beyond high school, as an innovative approach that other states could follow as they try to make sure the workforce has the skills for current and future jobs. Tennessee Reconnect rolls out statewide this fall.
But it’s not clear at this point who will be able to take advantage of the program and what barriers, such as access to transportation or childcare, will impede enrollment, said Johnson.
“What we’re worried about is those below the poverty line may not be as strong in numbers as their peers,” said Lovett.
Lovett and others will be paying attention to enrollment and completion data to understand what makes successful adult education feasible.
“That is the interesting challenge that we have not just in Tennessee but across the nation,” said Lovett. “A lot of individuals would love to (go to school) but the cost of living is creeping up on them so they have to use that time to find other forms of employment to pay the bills.”
A screenshot of Nashville from the Neighborhood Map of U.S. Obesity, which overlays different types of Census and national health data, visualizes where obesity is more highly concentrated around the city. The scale ranges from blue, which is zero to 24.24 percent obesity to red, which is 52.39 percent to 100 percent.
The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development presented its findings from a listening tour about what businesses, education and workers need from apprenticeships.
Spotted at a store on 11th Avenue North in Nashville on May 18, 2018. Where’s the retail therapy-health white paper?
What you’ll read about: BirdDog sent seven questions to the Tennessee governor hopefuls to illuminate policy stances on a range of health care topics, including outpatient treatment for substance abuse, balance billing, whether Medicaid expansion would be a priority, and whether the state and/or employers have an obligation to help with access to coverage.
Updated at 6 p.m. on 4.19.2018 to reflect additional responses.
What you’ll read about: The state legislature is poised to instruct TennCare to negotiate a work requirement — an unprecedented approach to Medicaid eligibility that raises questions about what happens in times of an economic downturn and how to track hours as the number of people in gig-type jobs rises.
Implementing a work requirement in a state with stringent eligibility rules spotlights a central question the U.S. is grappling with: what happens if insurance is tied to employment, but not all employers offer affordable coverage?