June 15, 2017
HOBART — Indiana education leader Jennifer McCormick said there will be 10 million jobs available in the next decade, and Indiana students have to be prepared to fill them.
She said her office is working closely with the Indiana Department of Workforce Development and the Indiana Commission for Higher Education to get students prepared for the workforce.
"We have identified four academic areas that we will focus on, and they are science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), career and technical education, reading and college dual credit courses," McCormick told a crowd of educators and business leaders.
McCormick was one of several speakers Thursday at the sixth annual READY NWI Summer Institute at Hobart High School hosted by Hobart schools Superintendent Peggy Buffington, who also is co-chairwoman of READY NWI.
READY NWI is an acronym for Regional Education and Employer Alliance for Developing Youth in Northwest Indiana. That organization is committed to ensuring that high school students graduate prepared — academically, socially and financially — to further their education without the need for remediation and to obtain degrees and other certifications that directly meet the needs of Northwest Indiana employers.
McCormick and others at the summer institute said they are impressed with READY NWI's work, and commended the organization for making strides in talking to local employers and understanding their employee needs.
Participants said employers need workers with sound literacy and numeracy skills who are highly skilled in critical thinking and problem-solving, and the ability to work in teams and adapt to rapid changes in technology.
"Indiana is very diverse," McCormick said.
"Southern Indiana is different from Northern Indiana. Indiana services 1.2 million students. Of that number, 47 percent are students who receive free and reduced (cost) lunch, 15 percent are special needs and 13 percent are high-ability, and you know what that means in the classroom. We also service 5,000 migrants. There are 275 languages spoken (in the home) that have been reported."
McCormick participated in a panel discussion along with Mike Barnes, of Indiana Workforce Development, and Josh Garrison, with the Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education. The discussion was moderated by Linda Woloshansky, president and CEO of the Valparaiso-based Center of Workforce Innovations.
All three believe that agencies have to work together for successfully getting students from the classroom into the workforce.
Barnes said some employers don't believe that educators are listening. Barnes and Garrison also said that one of the barriers is that educators and employers don't "speak the same language."
"Trying to make a connection with workforce is something that higher education is always trying to do," Garrison said.
During the conference, Brenda Emerson talked about the success of the Elkhart Area Career Center, and local officials addressed the growing concern about drug issues in Northwest Indiana.
Source: The Northwest Indiana Times
The READY NWI partnership supports the unique aspects of community, school, and student, and embraces a commitment to regional thinking and acting in order to ensure prosperity by meeting the skill and education needs of employers throughout Northwest Indiana.