Young Makers – Engaging Young Hoosiers in the Industrial Fields

Young Makers – Engaging Young Hoosiers in the Industrial Fields

The more exposure young people have to an industry, the more likely they are to consider it for their future careers. That’s been a longstanding philosophy in workforce development circles, particularly when an industry is struggling to recruit new talent. But here in Indiana, experts in the manufacturing field are taking that concept several steps further. In the last few months, several innovative new programs for high school students have brought regional employers and educators together in highly collaborative talent development initiatives.


New Industrial Career Academy

Earlier this year, Ivy Tech Community College in Lafayette teamed up with the Indiana Next Generation Manufacturing Competitiveness Center (IN‐MaC) at Purdue to launch a new Industrial Career Academy (ICA).

The ICA will provide students with a unique educational experience that utilizes hands‐on learning and provides students with on‐the‐job training. During the first three semesters of the program, students have an integrated classroom and industry training experience. Students will participate in paid internships during their final semester of the program.

Students will participate in a two‐year program that offers a program of study in Industrial Maintenance to prepare students to complete the Industrial Electrical Certificate. Students will earn both high school and college credit through Ivy Tech’s dual credit and dual enrollment courses.

Lisa Deck, IN‐MaC’s Program Manager Education Workforce, said that providing students with a supervised training plan at each partnering industry will give them the foundational skills to understand a manufacturing career fully.

“We aim to increase the hands‐on experience while focusing on the academic, technical, and durable skills needed for a successful future,” Deck said.

Crawfordsville Mayor Todd Barton said, “We know that maintenance technicians are in high demand with our area employers. We are excited that Ivy Tech is creating a Career Academy in Crawfordsville to prepare residents for careers that will meet the need of employers, while providing a high quality, well‐paying career for those completing the program.”

The academy is designed to begin in Fall 2023 with Crawfordsville, North Montgomery, Southmont, and Western Boone school corporations.


Supporting Student Entrepreneurs

Sometimes, the entrepreneurial spirit doesn’t wait until graduation. Some companies get their start right in the classroom. Earlier this spring, Conexus Indiana launched a new statewide network called Conexus Student Industries to support the goals of young people to become manufacturers or start a business.

The program will bring together 15 high schools that develop manufacturing and logistics talent through School-based Enterprises (SBEs), which are student-operated businesses that manufacture and commercialize products or services in a school setting.

Conexus says that while Indiana schools have operated SBEs for decades, those operations have taken on new levels of sophistication and purpose in recent years. What used to feature small operations, hand-made items, and student-to-student sales, has grown to now include sophisticated production facilities with clients that include big manufacturers, municipalities, and other businesses. Much of this growth was made possible by industry partners.

The new Student Industries network aims to take this growth further by enabling schools to share best practices and identify and secure additional funding. The network also involves business leaders who will share industry needs while investing in a talent pipeline of students ready for careers in their companies.


Education Readiness Grants Continue

The Indiana Office of Career and Technical Education (OCTE) launched a new round of Education Readiness Grants to provide funding for schools to implement programs in high-demand career fields, specifically advanced manufacturing and information technology.

The grant aims to strengthen partnerships between industry and local schools, while increasing student access to opportunities in these career fields. Last year, six schools were awarded a combined $493,397 to purchase smart manufacturing technologies and equipment.

Schools using these grants must partner with a local employer to provide students with a work-based learning experience that directly complements the career and technical education pathways coursework. Eligible programs of study include subjects like smart manufacturing, industrial automation, robotics, cybersecurity, software development, and information technology.

“By providing schools the resources necessary to acquire and offer instructional equipment and technology up to the latest industry standards, students can develop skills that will transition seamlessly into high-wage, high-demand careers,” said Tony Harl, state director of Career and Technical Education.


Great Efforts for Talent Growth

As more young Hoosiers become involved with manufacturing programs like these, they’ll learn a lot more about opportunities that could be a great fit for their futures. On the other side, companies will have access to a wider pool of employee candidates that already possess some prior experience in their fields. By collaborating and investing in educational efforts like these, Indiana is creating a strong talent pipeline and preparing students for successful, well-paying careers in the manufacturing industry.

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