hired to lead
Lilly funded educational initiative
is designed to promote
education in manufacturing
(August 2008) The Community Found-ation of
Madison and Jefferson County continues to develop a strategy for using
a $900,000 grant to enhance educational opportunities for those workers
in manufacturing. The foundation is participating in a regional initiative
conceived by the Heritage Fund-the Community Foundation of Bartholomew
County and funded with a $38 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc.
The 10 Indiana counties participating in the economic development project
are Jefferson, Jackson, Switzerland, Ohio, Ripley, Franklin, Decatur,
Dearborn, Bartholomew and Jennings. Each of those countys community
foundations is eligible for grants from Heritage Fund to develop and
administer programs in their own county.
The new initiative, called Economic Opportunities 2015, or EcO15, will
bring a specialized education curriculum, Advanced Manufacturing Education,
into junior and senior high schools in the participating counties, as
well as make the training available to the local workforce.
Kathy Huffman, a board member of the Community Foundation of Madison
and Jefferson County, has been hired to be the EcO15 Coordinator for
Jefferson County. She has worked with local officials, industry leaders
and educators to put together a comprehensive plan that will offer innovative
training to students and workers.
We are excited about EcO15. It is a win-win situation for both
our education system and manufacturers, she said. It will
offer more educational opportunities for students, supply manufacturers
with highly skilled, ready-to-work employees and provide new economic
opportunities for our community.
As part of the project, high school students in the area will be able
to participate in a two-year program called Manufacturing Skills Standards
Certification. MSSC is cutting edge curriculum that has only been
implemented in two states at this point, Indiana and Texas, said
Huffman. It takes manufacturing training to a higher level and
gives an edge to students considering a career in advanced manufacturing.
Louise Markel, president of Community Foundation of Madison and Jefferson
County, said statistics show that nearly one in three residents in southeastern
Indiana, or 38,000 people, work in manufacturing and there is a real,
industry-wide need for skilled employees. Over the next few years, it
is predicted that 6,500 additional advanced manufacturing positions
will be added to the region. The new Eco15 initiative will help train
students in the area to fill those positions.
There is a perception that manufacturing is moving overseas,
she said. But our area is staying competitive, and initiatives
such as this one will help manufacturers stay in our area and will help
attract new manufacturing.
Huffman said the MSSC program will be a benefit to schools for several
reasons. It will help students who want to go to work right out of high
school get ready for a manufacturing career. It will also offer a two-year
degree for students who may not want to go to a university, and it will
give students considering a business career a solid base.
It fills the gap for those middle students who arent necessarily
planning to go right into a four-year college, she said.
The curriculum is set to be implemented in area schools in fall 2009.
The first students to complete the coursework will graduate in 2011.
The curriculum has been approved for students who are currently working
toward either a Core 40 or a Core 40 Technical Honors degree.
Huffman said school counselors are working on career awareness projects
that will also make parents aware of the new educational opportunity
for students, and manufacturers have been asked for input on how EcO15
and MSSC training could best help those already employed in manufacturing
jobs in the community.
Under the new Eco15 initiative, Huffman said a pre-engineering program
for junior high students is also being developed. Project Lead the Way
will offer the Indiana Science Technology Engineering and Math curriculum
to junior high students. Heavy in math, Huffman said ISTEM will fill
a critical need for the community.
While, EcO15 is a three year plan that will continue through May 2011,
Huffman said the Advanced Manufacturing Curriculum is sustainable
for the long term. The initial startup, which will include computer
labs, equipment and teacher training, will incur the largest costs,
she said. The financing to continue the program will not be that
great, and there is Department of Education money and other funding
available to continue with it.
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