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Panelists delve into the notion of “success” in Northwest Indiana when it comes to education and workforce

Date: 11/19/2015 through 11/19/2015

During the Graduate to Success event held November 13, 2015, Dr. Peggy Buffington, superintendent for School City of Hobart, moderated a panel of educators and employers in a session titled “Success through the Eyes of Partners.”

The panel focused on just a few central questions: What does success mean in the eyes of your organization? How do you measure our progress towards that goal? What barriers stand in the way of reaching the Big Goal by 2025? And finally, what one take-away could the audience get active about?

While success for some is having a trained and prepared workforce, for ArcelorMittal human resource manager Joe Medellin it means getting educators involved with employers. “The manufacturing environment has improved; this isn’t your grandpa’s plant,” Medellin said. “Educators need to know what we do [in the plant] and what kinds of skills we need.” "That way the right students can be directed toward some of the great careers in this industry."

In terms of measuring progress, Purdue University North Central Chancellor James Dworkin said they are using data indicators and dual-credit completions to get a grasp on student needs and progress which supports completions. Meanwhile, Medellin and Heather Ennis, president and CEO of the Northwest Indiana Forum spoke in support of looking to measuring what Ennis called intangibles as an indicator: “the aptitude and desire to learn, the soft skills [like communication and timeliness] as well as active engagement” are what they say indicates progress in developing students who will succeed.

The panel’s barriers to reaching success centered around the status quo: Medellin said a lingering stigma pushes students away from vocations and into college whether they should be there or not; Ennis said that the region has become complacent but we can’t just maintain if we want to be competitive; and Dworkin said for those going to college, student debt—which he said has tripled in the United States since 2006—holds many back from prospering once they’ve left school.

Asked to state a take-away the audience could act on, the panelists’ answers all encouraged action: get involved, get educated about the realities of businesses in your community (instead of your preconceptions), and spread the word about all the opportunities that make Northwest Indiana such a great place to live and work.

 

Graduate to Success Summit was hosted by READY NWI and the America’s Promise Alliance as part of the national GradNation initiative. To learn more about READY NWI, visit www.readynwi.com or check out their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/READYNWI/

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