INDIANAPOLIS - Independent Colleges of Indiana and Ascend Indiana have form what they're calling a strategic alliance. The partnership aims to enhance the connections between students and employers in an effort to meet the "changing demands in the Indiana labor market." Ascend Indiana, the state's talent and workforce development initiative, says it will work with ICI member institutions to guide students through the internship and job search process.

The partners say the effort will also help students understand how their skills align with available job opportunities. In an interview with Inside INdiana Business Reporter Mary-Rachel Redman, Ascend Chief Executive Officer Jason Kloth said the partnership will have a profound impact on Indiana.

"It's going to enable us to connect students that are graduating from those institutions - 30 institutions with more than 100,000 students - to internships and jobs throughout central Indiana and across the state more broadly, which is going to have a really important impact for the workforce long-term," said Kloth. "Ultimately, our goal is to be placing thousands of job seekers on an annual basis in a way that allows them to get their start in their career, but also enables the growth of our businesses and makes us more attractive to companies that are looking to either expand their business here or to relocate their business here."

Kloth says the partnership has three key components: 

  • First, the partners will utilize the Ascend Network talent platform designed to help students navigate the Indiana labor market through profiles of more than 250 Hoosier employers. Students will build out profiles to get connected with available jobs. 
  • Ascend and ICI will then partner with higher education institutions and employers to develop custom talent pipelines for in-demand careers. The effort includes participation in programs such as the Roche Academy, a partnership recently launched between Roche Diagnostics and the University of Indianapolis.
  • Lastly, Kloth says the partners want to take what they learn through the effort and "feed it back into the public policy ecosystem in a way that approves the allocation of public funds to the benefit of everyone in our community." 

David Wantz, chief executive officer of Independent Colleges of Indiana, calls the partnership a "wonderful opportunity.

"Usually, a student will walk in (around) their senior year and say, 'I want to get my resume done.' The great thing about this is we can start focusing curriculum to help the students actually land that job," said Wantz. "The good thing on the employer side is it's an extended job interview. So it's a great marriage of the opportunity to change curriculum, prepare students and help businesses."

Wantz says the ICI member institutions have been very eager to find employers who will them what they're looking for, so the colleges can provide the kind of curriculum to make it more practical for students. He says the partnership allows the schools to prepare students to be prepared when they enter the workforce.

"We all live in Indiana. We're all Hoosiers and yet, we know that we're losing talent. So it's important for every single one of us to bring businesses here and to keep talent here. And with Indiana's private colleges being the seventh-largest employer in the state - 22,000 full-time employees - we think we have a responsibility for that, too."