There has been a significant effort on behalf of Region public schools to bring a greater awareness to students and their parents of the growing opportunities in technical career fields and post-secondary education opportunities.
In partnership with the Center of Workforce Innovations, READY NWI has provided middle and high school counselors, administrators and teachers numerous opportunities to visit state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities and other businesses throughout the Region to meet and discuss with employers the workforce qualities they seek in future employees.
During these site visits, school officials have the opportunity to see firsthand the logistical and modern technology being used in a variety of ways to produce goods and services.
Porter County also is fortunate to have an interlocal partnership with the Porter County Career and Technical Education Center, under the leadership of Jon Groth.
In these career and technical education classes, students take the theoretical knowledge they learn in a classroom setting and apply the skills in real applications within the technical education lab. This hands-on approach solidifies the students’ understanding of the material by connecting theory with practical application.
While not every student plans on pursuing a four-year degree or industry certifications, public schools are charged with preparing all students with skills for future employment. Many school districts use a variety of software tools to assist students with career planning.
For example, MSD of Boone Township has been using the Kuder Indiana Career Explorer as another tool to help all middle and high school students with their college and career planning.
Students have access to a variety of assessments, including the Career Interest Assessment, Skills Confidence, or Work Values Assessment used to match the student’s individual interests and strengths with career possibilities and educational pathways.
As students navigate through Indiana Career Explorer, they are exposed to links that define the related job responsibilities for that position, what employers look for in candidates, career outlooks, future salary forecasts and the level of education or technical training needed.
Probing deeper, students are able to search through all of the schools and technical centers within the United States offering the educational training programs and their entry requirements and financial information.
In addition, there are features to create a resume, cover letter and reference list for any future applications.
Counselors can then help the students select the best courses to take in high school to ensure courses move students closer to their ultimate college and career goals.
While there have been great strides made in providing and promoting the many purposeful career and technical educational opportunities available, our Region can continue to reach even higher. Students and parents can take advantage of the many career and technical education open house invitations, talk to their school counselors about college and career planning and take advantage of the college and career software programs.
Most high-quality jobs in the region will require education and training beyond high school.
Nathan H. Kleefisch is the superintendent of MSD Boone Township schools in Hebron and a member of the READY NWI Education and Career and Technical Education team. The opinions are the writer's.
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.