Hiring Well, Doing Good
BY JUSTIN OWEN
With an all-time low unemployment rate in our state, one might think that Tennessee’s economy is working for everyone. And it’s certainly better than it has been for far more people in a very long time. Sadly, the unemployment rate masks the real challenges faced by many Tennesseans who have given up trying to find work, are perpetually underemployed, or whose background makes it impossible for them to find steady work. To that end, we still have much to do to truly address employability issues in our state.
But this problem isn’t unique to Tennessee. As we meet with partners and allies in other states, they too share these concerns. Fortunately, like Beacon, many of our sister state think tanks are all about rolling up their sleeves and getting things done. To that end, the Georgia Center for Opportunity recently launched a project called “Hiring Well, Doing Good.” The focus is on addressing chronic un- and under-employment in their state. This project has been so successful in Atlanta that we are partnering with GCO to bring it here to Tennessee. This summer, Beacon and the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce will start our own “Hiring Well, Doing Good” initiative in our state. Our goal is simple: remove barriers to work, particularly for the chronically un- and underemployed, so that all people have the richest set of opportunities to reach their potential and experience the dignity of work.
As part of this new project, Beacon will utilize our extensive network of nonprofit and business leaders to link up employers and employees, forging relationships and fostering productive conversations on the topic of increasing hiring opportunities. This will start with kick-off events in key cities across Tennessee, the first of which will be in Nashville on June 14.
After elevating the dialogue about the need to focus on employability in our state at the kickoff events, Beacon will organize those individuals, companies, and nonprofits who are most engaged in working groups. These groups will be formed in each community to identify what’s needed to decrease un- and underemployment in their area. The working groups will meet regularly and will identify actionable next steps such as implementing or expanding job fairs, increasing vocational training programs, providing job mentoring, soft-skills training, and policy or legal reforms necessary to sustain positive change.
Too often, think tanks come up with what they believe are the best solutions to problems, only to find that not only was the solution unworkable, but the problem didn’t even exist in the first place. I’m proud of Beacon for always trying to talk to those most impacted by our policy solutions, and the “Hiring Well, Doing Good” approach will ensure that we are constantly talking to those looking for good jobs, those hiring them, and the nonprofits seeking to help on both sides of the equation.
If you want to be a part of our “Hiring Well, Doing Good” kickoff breakfast, click here to learn more.