University of Memphis Center Spearheads Regional Ecosystem to Address Need for Skilled Workforce in the Mid-South

Upskill Mid-South initiative answers the call for accelerated training for jobs in advanced manufacturing, construction, logistics, transportation, technology 

November 8, 2023— The Center for Regional Economic Enrichment at the University of Memphis, with assistance from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, kicked off a workforce development initiative on Wednesday, Nov. 8, to provide in-demand industry credentials to participants in a tri-state area.

Called Upskill Mid-South, the initiative is designed to create economic mobility for adults and young adults living in 21 counties in West Tennessee, 14 counties in North Mississippi, and seven counties in East Arkansas while being innovative about future industry needs in advanced manufacturing, construction, logistics transportation and technology.

In August, the Center for Regional Economic Enrichment (CREE) received a Good Jobs Challenge grant totaling $21.5 million. Administered by the Economic Development Administration (EDA), the grant will create a regional workforce development ecosystem that will, through collaborative partnerships, bring more re-engagement opportunities for unemployed, underemployed, and incumbent workers in the Mid-South region. 

This initiative puts community partnerships at the forefront so that through upskilling our workforce, we can rebuild the region’s economy in ways that promote equity, support communities and create a more sustainable future economy,” said Dr. Richard Irwin, who serves as Executive Dean of UofM Global, the College of Professional & Liberal Studies (CPLS) and the Center for Regional Economic Enrichment.

The advantage of having the University of Memphis lead this workforce ecosystem is that the programs to train and sustain essential career skill opportunities are the same quality as traditional education models, just accomplished in less time to accommodate nontraditional workers.

The Upskill Mid-South sector partnership is a regional collaboration that includes businesses within one industry sector working closely with economic development, community organizations, government, education, and training to identify and solve workforce and other issues. This strategic sector partnership is a proven approach to help regions move to a more strategic role to build regional skilled talent pipelines and create career paths toward quality jobs for various workers in regional industries. 

In addition to their industry-specific training, Upskill Mid-South participants—regardless of the industry concentration they select—will receive training in workforce readiness, digital skills, and soft skills.

As the University and its partners embark on the Upskill Mid-South initiative, they do so strategically, leading to measurable and impactful outcomes, including the number of individuals trained, the number of jobs acquired, and the number of families impacted for the better through stable employment in high-quality careers.

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Diane Pabich, Senior Project Director



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