Belmont University is nearing the close of the inaugural year of its Jobs of the Future initiative—a program aimed to support and reimagine the changing workforce. Launched quietly in August 2022, the program develops a new opportunity pipeline and envisions entry-level jobs that do not yet exist, meeting both market demands and the needs of campus neighbors who are seeking a career path.
Leading the initiative is Senior Director Dr. Andy White, who formerly served as a dean at Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin. “People presume the program is about jobs in artificial intelligence or some advanced, cutting-edge science. In actuality, we are building partnerships to help folks who might not believe college is an option and adults who are working but struggling to make ends meet. We are working with partners to help these neighbors understand, prepare for, and excel in the education and training opportunities already available and to help them achieve greater career and earnings dividends when they do.”
The program focuses on two areas and collaborates with local community partners. The first seeks to increase college readiness and success for high school students in low-income families through relationships with Metro Nashville Public Schools, Nashville State Community College, and local non-profits and area employers. The second is to help underemployed adults rapidly complete training opportunities needed to enhance their job options and earning power, through relationships with The Branch in Antioch, Belmont’s Family Wellness Program and Workforce Essentials, an organization that provides career and job training counsel and referrals throughout Middle Tennessee.
A complement to the Belmont Accelerator for Social Innovation Collaboration (BASIC) program, Jobs of the Future will prepare participants for “middle skills” positions widely prevalent in today’s economy, those requiring more education than a high school diploma and less than a bachelor’s degree. While these roles provide work with dignity, a living wage and benefits plans, many employers still struggle to find enough qualified people to fill them.
“Belmont’s call to whole person formation embraces every aspect of a person’s development, including helping people find their way and discover their purpose,” said Dr. Amy Crook. “One way Belmont is helping people understand their own sense of purpose in the world is through the Jobs of the Future program. It’s a dream to create and facilitate an opportunity pipeline tailored for folks who have faced obstacles to thriving in our region.”
To date, the program has been cultivating the relationships needed to design and launch a pilot program, expected during the 2023-2024 academic year, with opportunities for Belmont students to serve as peer mentors.
The Jobs of the Future team grew recently with the addition of Bridget Golden who serves as associate director. With more than two decades of higher education experience, Golden most recently served as a relational completion advisor at Volunteer State Community College providing academic and coordinating a mentorship program.
“Education changes lives. I am thrilled to bring my skills building partnerships and connecting people as I join the dynamic team at Belmont with the Jobs of the Future Program,” said Golden. “I look forward to inspiring hope and engaging with our community.”