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Regional Career Development Conference Draws Over 100 Local High School Students Ready to Compete
February 13, 2015 » On Friday, January 30th the regional Jobs for Americans Graduates (JAG) Career Development Conference was held on Indiana University Northwest’s (IUN) campus in Gary, Indiana. Approximately 110 students from 8 area schools (AK Smith Career Center, Calumet High School, East Chicago Central High School, Gary Roosevelt Career and College Academy, Gary Wirt/Emerson VPA, Gary West Side Leadership Academy, Hammond High School, and Knox High School) gathered in Raintree Hall to represent their schools and to compete for a place in the state competition in one of eight skill categories and Out Standing Senior Nominee. Following a short welcome speech by Northwest Indiana Workforce Board Member Keith Kirkpatrick in the auditorium, the students adjourned to their assigned classrooms for their events. Events included career presentation, cover design, creative solutions, critical thinking, employability skills, public speaking, writing skills, and financial literacy, and Outstanding Senior. Colorful banners, community service binders, and student produced JAG commercials from each school were also judged by volunteer judges representing local employers, community organizations, and workforce officials. Many of the judges had judged before, returning because they enjoyed interacting with the students. During the introductions, a few even revealed that they too were once JAG students, so they were happy to support the program that had helped them achieve their goals. In the auditorium, 11 students gave three-minute prepared speeches with the topic “JAG as a Roadmap to My Future.” Before they began, two-time winner David King Jr, now a student at IUN, offered the students advice based on his experiences, urging them to stay calm and be themselves. Though some were nervous, many used the time to tell personal stories of struggle and success; one girl said that following a family tragedy, she would’ve dropped out of high school if her counselor hadn’t pointed her toward JAG. Another credited JAG with her acceptance into four of her top five colleges. As all the scores were tabulated, students reconvened in the auditorium and heard an energetic presentation from ArcelorMittal’s R.D. Parpart. Parpart’s talk focused on how, as the economy changes, jobs for unskilled workers are drying up while new opportunities for skilled workers are going unfilled. “We desperately need skilled workers,” he said. “That’s why they pay me just to talk to you.” And while he said he would never tell anyone not to go to college, his message was on gaining marketable skills as the key to success, not just a degree. WorkOne staff then ran a spirited game of “JAG Jeopardy” with the students before the awards ceremony that recognized top finishers in the various competitions. The following first place winners will be moving on to the March 2015 State Finals Career Development Conference in Indianapolis: Chapter Banner-Gary West Side Leadership Academy, Chapter Service Learning Binder-AK Smith Career Center in Michigan City, Chapter Commercial-Calumet High School, Program Cover Design-Maia Smith from Gary West Side Leadership Academy, Career Presentation-Amari Butler from East Chicago Central High School, Creative Solutions-Jose Arciniega from Calumet High School, Critical Thinking-Jaylen Reese from Calumet High School, Employability Skills-Katie Sullivan from Knox High School, Financial Literacy-AJ Hoy from Knox High School, Public Speaking-Georgeann Holloway from East Chicago Central High School, Writing Skills-Brianna Talley from East Chicago Central High School, and the Outstanding Senior Award went to Kei-Chelle Jordan from Calumet High School. Through the anticipatory nervousness of the morning’s activities to the early afternoon’s relaxed camaraderie, the day’s events stand as yet another successful regional conference that rewarded and inspired the students and workers of tomorrow. For further information on the local JAG program, contact Tamara Stump at the Center of Workforce Innovations at 219-462-2940, ext. 32Learn more »
NW Indiana Workforce Summit Emphasizes Alignment of Efforts to Compete in Nation’s Job Wars
November 25, 2014 » On Thursday, November 20, the Northwest Indiana Workforce Board hosted 250 people at their 2014 Workforce Summit. The half day event at the Avalon Manor in Merrillville featured a general session and breakout sessions that drew employers, economic and workforce development executives, chamber executives, community and business leaders, education administrators, and local elected officials. At the general session, attendees heard highlights from the NW Indiana Workforce Board’s newly published State Workforce Report, of which they received a copy of at the end of the program. Linda Woloshansky, President & CEO of the Center of Workforce Innovations told the crowd that NW Indiana is in job wars with the rest of the world and that only through a focused and collaborative effort will they position themselves as a competitive region of choice. “Our realization of this need and opportunity has really propelled us forward to work together in leveraging our talents, time, and treasure more effectively and in alignment with each other,” said Woloshansky. The job wars have served as a vehicle for the NW Indiana Workforce Board and its WorkOne system to place greater emphasis on high-wage, high-demand sector based training in collaboration with many sitting in the audience. Woloshansky added that it’s also accelerated the initiatives of the Region 1 Works Council as they work carefully on the Career and Technical Education agenda. Indiana Beverage general manager and NW Indiana Workforce Board member, George Douglas, carried on thoughts of working together and challenged the employers in the audience to find new ways to be full partners with educators and other community leaders in preparing the workforce. Following his challenge, Senator Ed Charbonneau introduced Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann, who was greeted with a standing ovation. Ellspermann presented details about the Governor’s Strategic Plan and the installation of the Indiana Career Council and the Regional Workforce Councils. Ellspermann said that transforming Indiana’s workforce to meet the demands of current and future jobs was “the most critical challenge in Indiana.” Following the general session presentations, attendees moved into four interactive moderated breakout sessions that included the Two Plan A’s: Charting a Path to Success-moderator was Kris Emaus, Chair of the Regional Works Council and NW Indiana Workforce Board member; It Takes Two to Tango—Economic Development and Workforce Development-moderator was Heather Ennis, CEO of the Northwest Indiana Forum; Work and Learn Opportunities Provide a Solid ROI-moderated by Sandra Alvarez, Business Consultant with the Center of Workforce Innovation; and The BIG Goal: 60 by 2025-moderated by Roy Vanderford, Director of Workforce Strategies with the Center of Workforce Innovations and READY NWI. For further information about the 2014 Workforce Summit, contact Barb Grimsgard, Communications Manager at the Center of Workforce Innovations at 219-462-2940, ext. 28 or firstname.lastname@example.org.Learn more »
Indiana manufacturers say they are optimistic about future, survey reveals
November 11, 2014 » Indiana manufacturers are upbeat about their prospects for future growth, according to a survey released today, yet their enthusiasm is tempered somewhat by concerns over increased regulation, rising energy costs and a shortage of skilled workers. The manufacturing survey put together by the Indianapolis accounting firm of Katz, Sapper & Miller and Indiana University's Kelley School of Business is based on responses from companies across the state. Nearly 50 percent of the businesses that responded are in the industrial equipment, automotive, or aerospace and defense manufacturing sectors, and 88 percent of them are headquartered in the United States. According to the survey, 72 percent of respondents said they anticipated moderate economic growth in Indiana through 2015, while 52 percent of respondents predicted similar moderate growth for the U.S. economy. Forty-seven percent of respondents said they saw "healthy" financial performance in 2012-2013, while 35 percent characterized it as "stable" and 17 percent described it as "challenged." Less than 35 percent of companies identified their financial performance as "healthy" in last year's survey. And just three years ago, 47 percent of respondents said their financial performance was "challenged." The percentage of respondents who said they plan on opening a new manufacturing facility Indiana increased from 8 percent last year to 20 percent this year, and of those planning to expand, more than half said the new facilities will be used to produce new and existing products. And yet, the percentage of companies that plan on "offshoring" production over the next year rose to 10 percent from 7 percent of respondents the previous year. They cited skilled overseas labor and lower labor costs as the main reasons for doing so. Perhaps the biggest challenge manufacturing companies face is finding skilled workers. Thirty-one percent of companies indicated a serious shortage of skilled production workers, and 38 percent said they feared a serious shortage of skilled production workers in the next three to five years. In addition, manufacturing companies are rejecting job candidates because they don't possess rudimentary job skills; 70 percent of respondents said rejected candidates lacked basic skills such as regular attendance, timeliness and work ethic. Roughly two-thirds of respondents identified four chief issues that could affect future growth: Indiana's business health care laws and regulations (67 percent); Indiana's infrastructure and logistics, and the state's corporate tax policy (both 66 percent); and Indiana's property tax policy (65 percent). More specifically, 73 percent of respondents said they were concerned about changes to the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, while 53 percent said they worried about new regulations to control greenhouse gas emissions. Another 46 percent said the cost of electricity "highly" affected their businesses, and 45 percent said it "somewhat" affected their businesses. Barry Rochford, Star ©Copyright 2014 KPC Media Group, Inc.Learn more »
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