Student communicating with female staff member through assistive technology
A male student communicating via sign language to a female staff member
Dog guiding a visually impaired student

UPEP for Businesses

Universal Pathways to Employment Project


Project Overview


The Universal Pathways to Employment Project (UPEP) is an exciting opportunity for your business to partner with Pellissippi State to support your workplace needs and enable people with disabilities to have an informed choice of competitive, integrated employment options. UPEP is a unique career development program designed to match available jobs with the skills, interests, and education of students with disabilities. Students receive support through soft skills training, employment etiquette, dress for success, and role-playing. Businesses not only benefit from the positive results of these interventions, but UPEP will also provide Career Coaches who are tasked with developing and implementing job skills plans and training participants to be successful in your particular job setting. This results in employers having qualified educated interns that have the full support of UPEP behind them.


Benefits of Internships


Internships give employers access to a pool of motivated individuals who bring fresh ideas and innovation to their places of employment. Internships can also provide a risk-free pipeline for the recruitment needs of the business, organization, or agency. Allowing employers the ability to assess prospective candidates prior to making a permanent hiring decision increases the efficacy of the decision-making process and the likelihood of a successful placement while reducing employment costs. Internships also provide leadership and management growth experience to the organization’s existing employees who oversee the internship program and its participants. In short, there are many advantages for businesses to host internship programs.


Advantages for the Employer


According to research conducted by the Georgetown University Center on Education and Workforce, “between 2008 and 2018, the economy will create 47 million job openings: 14 million new jobs and 33 million job openings to replace retiring baby boomers. Job openings that require at least some postsecondary education or training will make up 64% of all job openings and will include the majority of long term career jobs.”* The research also states that several key industries will lose most of their postsecondary-educated workers, including those in scientific, technical services, education services, and those in finance and insurance divisions. According to a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, 31% of the federal workforce will be eligible for retirement in 2017.  ***

There are many advantages for you as an employer with UPEP. We provide qualified degree seeking candidates educated at Pellissippi State Community College for internships and employment in multiple subject areas including:

Administrative Professional Technology
     Business, Health Care Office Administration

Business Administration
      Computer Accounting, Culinary Arts, Hospitality, Management

Computer Science and Information Technology
      Computer Systems Technology, Networking and Communications Systems

Early Childhood Education

Health Sciences

Interior Design Technology

General Technology

Business, Industrial and Interdisciplinary

Paralegal Studies

Engineering Technology
     Civil Engineering, Electrical Construction Management, Industrial Maintenance, Manufacturing, Automated Industrial Systems, Mechanical Engineering

Media Technologies

Communication Graphics Technology, Photography, Video Production Technology, Web Technology


Welding Technologies

Additional advantages include:

  • UPEP candidates will fulfill the 7% utilization goal for qualified individuals with disabilities if you are a government contractor or subcontractor.
  • Employers will receive resources, training and support in providing reasonable accommodations when necessary.
  • Each student will have a Career Coach that assists students in the transition to the business environment.  Employers will have the opportunity to interact with Career Coaches to achieve the shared goals of the student and company to achieve a successful internship and possible future employment.
  • Employers will gain critical information for hiring decisions and the ability to observe a job seeker’s performance and contributions to the workplace.
  • Candidates will meet real business and workforce requirements.

Contact Information

Let’s work together to build a community where all qualified candidates can find meaningful job opportunities and internships. For more information about this exciting opportunity, please contact Melissa VanDyke at 865-694-6740.


* Anthony Carnevale, Nicole Smith, and Jeff Strohl, “Help Wanted: Projections of Jobs and Education Requirements through 2018,” Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, accessed June 2010,, 14

**“ Recent Trends in Federal Civilian Employment and Compensation,” U.S. Government Accountability Office, last modified January 29 2014,