Speaker Beth Harwell Speaks up about Tennessee’s Workforce

October 2017
2017 Tennessee Manufacturing: Beyond the Box

In her remarks at the September lunch gathering on workforce development and expansion, Tennessee Speaker of the House Beth Harwell offered a wide-ranging assessment of the state of the workforce in the state. Overall, Harwell suggested, while Tennessee has been far from immune to the challenges that many other states are facing, workforce development efforts here are making positive strides — and have been a focus for Tennessee state government.

Here are the highlights:

There is no simple solution, Harwell said, but “we’re working on it.”

The Speaker noted that one promising approach involves adjudicating more drug-related cases in special drug courts that emphasize rehabilitation. “We won’t incarcerate our way out of the problem,” Harwell said. “Incarceration doesn’t rehabilitate people, and it costs $120,000 per year. Rehabilitation costs $40,000. It’s a good investment for our state.” Because she believes that pharmaceutical companies have played a role in the over-prescription of opioid pain medications, Harwell said that she will ask them to contribute financially to help the state pay for rehabilitation. “We have to address this issue,” she said, “because [the current situation] is economically unsustainable.”