The Aspire Economic Development + Chamber Alliance is creating an education-industry partnership to support the workforce pipeline in Johnson County. The organization says the initiative is designed to further develop a “school-to-career” labor pool.
The organization says it met with educators and businesses to discuss workforce challenges and plan opportunities to further develop the labor pool. Business partners were asked how they could help build relationships with local educators to train, recruit and retain a strong workforce.
“I am very happy with the participation and feedback from educators and business partners,” said Dr. Kent DeKoninck, former superintendent for the Greenwood Community School Corp. who helped facilitate the meetings. “We’ve got a long way to go but I am encouraged – both educators and businesspeople have come to the table with challenges and solutions.”
Aspire says the meetings began in October 2021 when the organization first brought together educators from Johnson County K-12 public schools, as well as Ivy Tech Community College and Franklin College.
“With the wealth of information gathered in these two separate meetings, Aspire then brought educators and business partners together to collaboratively engage in planning opportunities geared to further developing and building the labor pool from school to career,” said Aspire Vice President of Economic Development Amanda Rubadue. “Attendees participated in small group breakout sessions where they discussed the need for a student job shadowing experience, career paths for employees, connecting adult learners to educational opportunities, and teaching parents and students what is available from companies.”
Rubadue says workforce development is one-fifth of the organization’s economic development strategic plan.
“One of the five goals for this plan is to ‘magnify and deliver robust education and workforce endeavors,’” said Rubadue. “Having these conversations with so many willing partners has allowed Aspire to take ideas from these meetings and put them into immediate action.”
Aspire says it is currently planning summer field trips for educators to visit local workplaces and engage in dialogue with employers.