INDIANAPOLIS - A new pilot program aimed at engaging eighth grade students in career readiness and job exploration has been launched in 16 Indiana middle schools.

The Indiana Career Explorer (ICE) Pilot Program will evaluate and strengthen critical college and career readiness skills through in-classroom instruction along with the use of a customized online platform tailored to the state to help eighth graders better understand in-demand jobs, assess current skills, explore possible career pathways, and develop an education and training plan to achieve future goals. 

"We really feel that students can't be what they can't see, " said Leslie Crist, director of youth initiatives at the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. "What we hope is that students are exposed to more opportunities at an earlier age and are also able to see what the demand is, so hopefully they'll be more focused on exactly what career choice they select."

The ICE Pilot Program is a joint partnership between the Indiana Department of Workforce Development and the Indiana Department of Education.

“Indiana Career Explorer is centered on the student’s experience and for students and their families, with the critical support of educators, to begin thinking about careers they will want to pursue,” said DWD Commissioner Steve Braun. “We are very excited about this pilot program, the role Indiana Career Explorer will play in the pilot, and what we in turn will learn from the participating schools as we know it will take career exploration to the next level in Indiana. Our commitment to building and strengthening the workforce in Indiana starts with a solid K-12 educational foundation, and our partnership with DOE on this initiative and other programs is vital to preparing Hoosiers to be successful in the marketplace.”

Crist says she "absolutely" expects for the Indiana Career Explorer Program to continue to grow, adding that the 16 schools chosen to test the pilot is only the beginning. "The ultimate goal is to implement this statewide."

 The following 16 schools were chosen to participate in the pilot for the 2017-18 school year:

1.     North Vermillion Community School Corporation, North Vermillion High School

2.     South Ripley Community School Corporation, South Ripley Junior High School

3.     Jay School Corporation, West Jay County Middle School

4.     Eastern Greene Schools, Eastern Greene Middle School

5.     East Allen County Schools, Heritage Junior/Senior High School

6.     MSD Warren County, Seeger Memorial Junior-Senior High School

7.     Madison Consolidated Schools, Madison Consolidated Junior High School

8.     Rock Creek Community Academy

9.     East Porter County School Corporation, Washington Township Middle/High School

10.  Clark-Pleasant Community School Corporation, Clark Pleasant Middle School

11.  Greater Clark County Schools, River Valley Middle School

12.  South Bend Community School Corp, Marshall Intermediate Center

13.  Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp, Helfrich Park STEM Academy

14.  Indianapolis Public Schools, Harshman Middle School

15.  Warsaw Community Schools, Lakeview Middle School

16.  New Castle Community School Corp, New Castle Middle School