Dr. Jason Harrison, Director of Pathways for Students and AdultsBy Dr. Jason Harrison, Director of Pathways for Students and Adults

Elkhart County is committed to improving career pathways and life success for students now and in the future. Early in March, about 100 people representing business, education, and community and civic organizations met at Ivy Tech Community College in Elkhart to celebrate successes and plan next steps. The focus was on continuing to expand career awareness and pathways for our youth as well as our employed and unemployed adults.

The session started with an encouraging video message for all those in the room from Gov. Eric Holcomb, who was unable to attend the gathering in person. He conveyed his enthusiasm for the way Elkhart County is working together and encouraged us to keep up the good work! Elkhart County continues to be recognized by state workforce and education officials as a great example of the collaborative spirit necessary to bring transformative change.
Along with the new Career Quest program for seventh graders, it was also announced that Manufacturing Days will take place again this fall, bringing eighth-grade students into manufacturing facilities across the county on Tuesday through Thursday during the first two weeks of October. As in past years, the students will tour two manufacturing sites, and during an off-site lunch stop will learn about manufacturing career pathways training that they can begin in high school.

With the support of our K-12 and higher education partners, apprenticeships for students and adults will be expanding to include additional industries including healthcare, information technology, and business and finance. The Industrial Manufacturing Technician (IMT) apprenticeship was launched in the fall of 2017, and there are currently 76 adult apprentices enrolled in the program and 90 adult pre-apprentices who are completing the related certifications with the goal of transitioning into an apprenticeship. In addition, there are nearly 250 high school students either enrolled or who have completed certifications within the IMT apprenticeship.

By expanding apprenticeships into additional career pathways, we’ll not only help meet employers’ needs now and in the future, but we’ll also help our education system support the success of our students and adults. It’s estimated that 62 percent of jobs in Indiana will require a degree beyond high school by 2020. Our current educational attainment rate is 30.7 percent of working adults with a degree beyond high school (including 25.7 percent with an associate’s degree or higher and an estimate of 5 percent of adults with certifications).

Northridge High School CPT Students