Five industry councils create workforce pipelines to fill positions, while local students reap the benefits in the short- and long-term

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Key industries in Rutherford County are facing challenges.

Parents and students, it's time to take note.

The solutions to these challenges are resulting in incredible opportunities for students in Rutherford County -- both short- and long-term.

To understand what's happening, you first must look at the big economic picture affecting Rutherford County and other areas of Middle Tennessee.

The Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce has done so and has identified five key industries within the county that are experiencing rapid growth and have multiple jobs available.

Those industries are manufacturing, construction, health care, information technology and supply chain management, and they have been nicknamed the "High Five" of Rutherford County because they have a large presence and have multiple employment opportunities in need of being filled.

These are high-wage, career positions with loads of long-term growth potential -- but it's becoming more difficult to find qualified individuals to fill these roles, especially considering the county's low unemployment rate.

To help address these needs, the Chamber has facilitated the creation of five industry councils made up of company representatives, business advocates and education leaders. The councils typically meet monthly, and at each meeting, they work to create opportunities that will attract students to their fields, provide training and certifications for those students while in high school, and put them on a pathway to long-term success.

It's a win-win situation for everyone involved.

Students learn and take part in various career options, and businesses are creating a workforce pipeline to sustain their operations.

Beth Duffield is the senior vice president for education and workforce development at the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce, a title which she admits is a "mouthful." And while she may not be a household name known by most parents, her role bridging schools and businesses has been vital.

"I get up every day thinking about how we can help students make better connections to their future, their career and college, and also how we help fill the thousands of jobs that are available on any given day in Rutherford County across all sectors," Duffield said.

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