While many Tennesseans are still searching for a job, students across the state are worried about the job prospects that lie ahead of them.
Employers seem to be looking for applicants with schooling in engineering, math or science, so that is what Gov. Bill Haslam says Tennessee wants to provide.
Monday, Haslam announced a new statewide initiative worth millions to train K-12 students in those technical fields.
Roseline Prophete, a 10th grade student at Stratford STEM Magnet High School in Nashville, says she has already decided to be a medical examiner or pediatrician.
"Recently, we just finished a class on ethylene, and it determined the height and growth of a plant," Prophete said.
A large part of the curriculum at her STEM school focuses on science, math and engineering. The point is to prepare students toward a career path in those industries right out of high school.
"If we're going to be the best place in the Mid-South for high quality jobs, then we have to provide the workforce to do that," Haslam said. "It's really as simple as that. That's where the demand is."
Haslam announced the state will provide more than $3 million in funding for three new STEM schools in Cookeville, Chattanooga and the Tri-Cities area. The thought is that if there are trained workers in Tennessee to perform the in-demand jobs, businesses will come here.
"With Volkswagen just down the road, that would be a great place for our students to find really great jobs," said Prescott South Middle School Principal Cindy Taylor.
Lawmakers are extending the STEM programs to kindergarten, elementary and middle school levels, including Prescott South in Cookeville, which received $1 million to start training students this year.
The money will go toward purchasing the equipment needed to give students hands-on experience in specific fields.
Nearly a dozen schools across Tennessee applied to become STEM schools, but only three were chosen to receive grant money.
Those funds come from Tennessee's share of the federal Race to the Top program.
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