As a high school teacher, I’d like to recognize the local companies that are going out of their way to educate and encourage our students to consider all the options to prepare for a rewarding, highly-paid career right here in our community.

It’s a pleasure to see the look of excitement on teenagers’ faces when they first realize they can combine specialized secondary school classes with dual credit courses and industry-recognized credentials that give them an employable advantage right after graduation, as well as a head-start on an Associate degree or a four-year education.

Conexus Indiana, the state’s advanced manufacturing and logistics initiative, and more than 165 Indiana companies are working together with high schools to close the skills gap that exists between Hoosier workers and the new technology-dependent jobs that are driving Indiana’s economy. 

Conexus Indiana’s Hire Tech program works. Earlier this fall, 49 Daleville High School students took advantage of a program organized and hosted by Brevini Gear Systems at its Yorktown headquarters where it employs engineers, accountants, assembly technicians and other highly trained employees who utilize the newest and best technologies to manufacture planetary and helical gears for global customers.

Brevini worked with Ivy Tech Community College, Cintas and its own staff to create an "up-close and personal" educational experience for students. The program included a facility tour where students observed engineers, technicians and other employees at their daily work. Ivy Tech provided details on career trajectories and courses, Cintas led an OSHA program on fire safety, and Brevini staff demonstrated machine safety techniques including tag-out and lock-out.

The technology and the presence of oversized gears and gear systems – some weighing more than 65 tons – opened students’ eyes to today’s manufacturing facilities, as did the bright, well-lighted and green facilities. They saw for themselves that advanced manufacturing and logistics are high-tech and a great avenue to pursue a challenging, meaningful career with opportunities for upward mobility.

Following up on the excitement the students displayed, Brevini and other Conexus Indiana partners are now establishing job shadowing opportunities for interested students. Our goal at Daleville is to ensure that every student in the Hire Tech program has the opportunity to participate in a job shadowing experience.

I’d like to encourage parents of high school students to learn about programs like Hire Tech, and see what’s available in their teens’ school.

Just as important, the more AML companies that follow the lead of companies like Brevini, Magna Power Training and Mursix, the greater opportunities we have to impact the workforce of tomorrow.

David Beard is a teacher at Daleville High School.

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