Lubbers: Indiana focused on career readiness
Date: 11/14/2015 through 11/14/2015
HOBART | Educators in Indiana need to change a culture that grew up around manufacturing, where good paying jobs could be obtained with little education, Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers said Friday.
Today, that's not true for the high-quality jobs available in manufacturing and it's not true for any of the other jobs people want in the 21st century, Lubbers told about 180 educators at the Graduate to Success in Northwest Indiana summit at the Avalon Manor.
"We believe as a rule more students in high school and college should have more exposure to the real world of work," Lubbers said.
That change in culture is also why the Commission for Higher Education continues to work with local organizations like Ready NWI to boost the number of Hoosiers with post-high school certificates or degrees to 60 percent or higher, she said.
That aspiration was listed as the "big goal" of Friday's summit, but there are even bigger achievements it will lead to, said Linda Woloshansky, CEO of the Center of Workforce Innovations, when she opened the summit.
"We want to make Northwest Indiana a magnet for companies with high-paying and good paying jobs," she said.
Today's Graduate to Success in Northwest Indiana summit was different from such gatherings in previous years, in that it was one of 100 taking place across the nation through 2016 enjoying a partnership with GradNation of America's Promise Alliance.
America's Promise Alliance, an organization whose founding chairman was U.S. Army Gen. Colin Powell, is the nation's largest multisector alliance focused on the well-being of young people. GradNation has as its goal boosting high school graduation rates to 90 percent or higher nationwide.
Schools and organizations like Ready NWI have had success in reaching that goal in recent years, with high school graduation rates in Northwest Indiana increasing to greater than 90 percent overall as compared to about 83 percent just five years ago.
The Graduate to Success summit also featured brainstorming sessions of educators and other attendees. Members of a high-school students' perspective panel delivered the recommendations for action plans from each session.
Gary Middle College senior Jessica Hughes said her session group definitely felt there is more need for workplace internships and other real-world experiences for students.
"How can you go into a field if you've never even done it?" she asked. "Learning about something and actually doing it are two different things."
Miriam Soriano, a senior at Morton High School, said her group found schools are hampered by a lack of clarification on funding and other matters from the state.
"When schools are strained it puts strains on students ... so we need clarification if they want us to produce better students and better workers," she said.
Times Publisher Chris White closed the event with a call to action, noting the day's action plan matched up with what Northwest Indiana residents said they wanted in a recent Nielsen-Harris poll put out by One Region.
"What we learned is there is a strong sense of regional identity, but we want it to be even stronger," White said. "We learned people want to share resources and work together."
White challenged educators to increase educational attainment levels and employers to work directly with schools and students to show them the great jobs they have available.
"The challenge to us individually and and collectively is to increase the 'wow' factor in Northwest Indiana," White said.