Network aims to improve Indiana workforce readiness


Network aims to improve Indiana workforce readiness

CELL-photoThe Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning at UIndy is home to a new initiative working to better align the state’s educational opportunities with the realities of the state’s workforce needs. EWIN, the Indiana Education Workforce Innovation Network, was established through grant funding by Lilly Endowment and the Joyce Foundation. CELL will partner with Indiana’s Education Roundtable to address key issues related to remediation, dual credit, and career and technical education to prepare Indiana’s children for the future workforce.

Worrisome numbers

The numbers clearly indicate that Indiana has a problem. The Hoosier state ranks 42nd in the number of 25- to 64-year-olds with an associate’s degree or higher. In 2011, the most recent year for which data is available, Indiana’s attainment rate for that demographic was 38.7 percent, far short of the Lumina Foundation’s challenge to reach 60 percent by the year 2025.  EWIN was created to address glaring gaps between educational and economic development sectors. Its goals are two-fold:

— develop and support regional partnerships across Indiana with the intent of addressing high school remediation, dual-credit alignment, and innovative models of career and technical education for youths and adults, and

— convene a network of statewide education and workforce alignment partners to facilitate communication and collaboration.

In January, EWIN hosted a summit bringing together groups of education, economic, and workforce leaders from around the state to begin conversations on how Indiana can im prove its pathways to career goals for students. EWIN is working with seven regions around the state to develop plans for advancing efforts in workforce readiness. These regional partners are submitting applications for sub-grants up to $75,000 from EWIN to foster collaboration.

Graduating with skills

Ultimately, EWIN is working to ensure that every Hoosier student graduates from high school with the skills needed to succeed in college or a career. Together with its regional partners, EWIN is helping Indiana develop a strong workforce prepared for the challenges of a global economy. Sara B. Cobb, Lilly Endowment vice president for education, said the network’s goals reflect priorities long held by the Endowment. “For many years, Lilly Endowment has supported efforts to align academic preparation of the state’s residents with the needs of Indiana employers,” Cobb said. “We are pleased that two prominent statewide organizations, CELL and the Indiana Education Roundtable, are working together toward this objective.”