READY NWI and America’s Promise Alliance partnered to host the Graduate to Success Summit on Friday, November 13, as a part of the America’s Promise Alliance’s GradNation campaign. Northwest Indiana community officials, business leaders, and educators came together to examine local data on education related to the workforce and determine challenges that remain for Northwest Indiana to prepare young people for success. The day was filled with much discussion on problems and possible solutions the region is working on in efforts to reach the “Big Goal” – that by 2025, 60% of Northwest Indiana residents will have some post-secondary credential or degree.
High school students were invited to give their perspective and express their education, aspirations, and future goals. The eight students sat on a panel discussion and reflected on data that was collected from a survey of local high school students related to Northwest Indiana, education and workforce opportunities, as well as quality of life thoughts. Hearing the students’ perspectives on their own education provided a new opportunity for the region to continue to build on the “big goal” plan, while formulating new ideas based off of what the survey results and the panelists said.
In the data, roughly 30% of students answered that they didn’t care what geographic area they lived and worked in after completing their education, it primarily depended on where the jobs were. The same percentage answered that they haven’t learned much about employers and jobs in Northwest Indiana. This means that a better job of exposing students early on job opportunities is essential if we expect them to stay and be successful in Northwest Indiana. One student said, “The employers need to reach out to the youth, even if that means going in the classrooms and talking to us, the data showed most students didn’t care where they lived, reach out to those students.”
Another student expressed his suggestion on using social media more as a promotion of the region, he said, “Use social media to promote the Northwest Indiana; students almost can’t live without social media; get employment opportunities out there that are accessible to them.”
The students’ perspectives were greatly appreciated and gave everyone a different look on how to move forward with making sure our youth are college and career ready after high school. It also provided insight on why the “big goal” is vital to our region’s economic well-being.
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For further information, contact the Center of Workforce Innovations at 219-462-2940.