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Higher Education Institutions Fuel Jackson, TN Workforce

Jackson area colleges, universities support workforce needs and give students choice

By Teree Caruthers on December 13, 2017

Jackson, TN
Jackson / Courtesy of Union University

With seven colleges and universities within driving distance, Jackson’s deep pool of talent continues to help drive the city’s economic development efforts and enhance the quality of life for families.

Among the region’s higher education institutions are Union University, a Christian liberal arts university in Jackson that is consistently ranked in the top tier of U.S. News and World Report‘s List of America’s Best Colleges, and Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, which is associated with the Churches of Christ and offers several degree programs in Biblical studies. Also in Jackson are a campus of the University of Tennessee-Martin, the University of Memphis Lambuth, the historically black Lane College and Jackson State Community College.

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Ready for Work

Jackson State Community College prides itself on being particularly attuned to the needs of local industries. Advisory committees composed of business leaders and community members regularly meet with college officials to discuss the types of skills needed to fill high-demand jobs. Jackson State also works with businesses to give students real-world and hands-on training in addition to classwork.

“We’ve also got programs designed to place the student into an employment opportunity when they graduate,†says Dr. Allana Hamilton, president, Jackson State Community College. “Whether it’s nursing, whether it’s different types of allied health careers, whether it is our advanced maintenance programs, we work with business and industry to make sure that our curriculum at Jackson State is teaching students what they need once they graduate from the school and are employed.â€

Jackson State offers certificate and associate degree programs in areas such as allied health, nursing, advanced manufacturing and business. The college has even developed a STEM pathway for students, with courses and degree programs in biology, chemistry, engineering, plant and soil science, and agriculture business, among others. Jackson State also works with the local school systems to offer dual-enrollment credit.

“We do have a very strong dual-enrollment program within our 14-county service area, which allows us to work within the high schools. In fact, students earning concurrent high school and college credit constitute about 25-30 percent of our total enrollment. So we appreciate those long-standing partnerships and look forward to building new partnerships,†Hamilton says.

Jackson State joins the Tennessee College of Applied Technology at Jackson in helping keep the pipeline of highly skilled workers flowing to business. TCAT’s Jackson campus offers workforce training in fields such as advanced manufacturing, automotive technology, computer information systems and practical nursing.

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Good Neighbors

In addition to offering vast and varied opportunities for advanced education, the region’s colleges and universities significantly impact the region’s quality of life with their cultural and recreational offerings. For example, the University of Memphis Lambuth hosts many cultural events that are open to the public, including art shows, musical performances and visiting writers. You’ll also likely find Jackson families cheering on the University of Memphis Tiger football and basketball teams.

Every other month, representatives from each of the higher education institutions in the region meet with mayors and chamber of commerce officials to discuss how the groups can work together to better serve their community.

“In these meetings, we have established partnerships. The partnership was formed to serve underserved community members who are mentored by our employees and students,†says Niles Reddick, Ph.D., vice provost for the University of Memphis Lambuth. “We have also worked on each other’s initiatives. For example, Union University in Jackson has a television station, and they utilize students from each university to participate in the live television shows and bring in all leadership to interview regarding current events.

“Working together has been beneficial and we have been touted as an excellent example of how organizations can work well even when there is some minor competition. Despite that, we are all very different and unique.â€


Whether it’s nursing … or advanced maintenance programs, we work with business and industry to make sure that our curriculum at Jackson State is teaching students what they need once they graduate from the school and are employed.


Dr. Allana Hamilton
president, Jackson State Community College

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