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Weekend edition October 28, 2023 | Katelyn Keenehan

Report reveals critical workforce gap in Knoxville

The city has a major shortage of people pursuing careers in technology, making it hard for tech companies to land the right candidates.

Each year millions of students attend colleges and universities across the country. They’re committed to furthering their education; however, one critical topic of discussion isn’t being talked about. Where are the workforce needs? And- how can students tap into those shortages to maximize their earning potential?

Starting with careers in the technology sector. Knoxville has been growing as a tech hub over the past 10 years; however, there’s seemingly not enough talent to fill all the positions becoming available.

According to a report by the Knoxville Chamber and the Knoxville Technology Council, 36 of the tech companies that responded to the survey said they will need to fill between 400 and 800 new positions in the next five years.

The question is: where are those candidates coming from?

The report said fewer than 300 students graduate each year with degrees in computer and tech-related fields. To fill those positions, Knoxville will need to find a comprehensive plan to promote degree and certificate programs in these fields. Or, recruit candidates from out of the area.

However, that leads to a second hold-up. According to survey results, nearly three-quarters of respondents don’t believe students who have graduated from college or community college are equipped to enter the workforce. Companies are looking for experience – meaning internships, hands-on experience, and credentialing.

Here are the major certifications companies are looking for in Knoxville:

  • Project Management Professional
  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional
  • Certified Information Security Manager
  • Cisco Certified
  • Certified Cloud Security Professional.

The survey suggests that certifications will help qualified candidates secure more pay since these skills are in such high demand.

The report proposes solutions, including the use of federal and state resources such as the Workforce and Innovation Opportunity Act and Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development grants to fund training programs. It emphasizes the importance of helping local businesses understand how to connect with these resources.

The Knoxville Chamber and Knoxville Technology Council are holding a workshop on November 14 at 10:30 AM to inform businesses of these resources and make those connections.

The survey was filled out by 100 companies in manufacturing, financial services, IT, real estate, and healthcare.

Learn more about the workshop here.

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