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Bringing education into alignment April 6, 2006

Posted by Tom in Innovation, Opinion.
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One of the largest challenges in achieving an alignment between workforce and economic development is the issue of how to best bring education into the mix. Our education system is responsible for training our future workforce – and retraining our existing workforce.

Perhaps the most promising alignment on a national level has been the fast-evolving role of the community college system into a specialized, ED-driven training infrastructure. From here in Indiana, the changes at Ivy Tech Community College are coming so fast that I'm surprised that the school can keep up. But they appear to be doing so – and bring with those changes the promise of some exciting times ahead for economic development in Indiana.

K-12 education theorists have developed fascinating ways to align youth education with workforce goals – Indiana's biggest initiative on that front is the groundbreaking Career Majors Academy concept. Other ideas are being circulated, and some schools have picked up on this new trend and embraced it fully.

One of my first projects at my current employer was to create a "toolkit" – an electronic resource for participants in our Youth Education Summit to consult after the excitement of the speakers had passed. I worked with regional vocational/tech prep/career educators to develop this toolkit, which we placed online to allow web visitors to review. Between the embedded articles and web links, this is one of the more robust single-site portals to the varied and fascinating world of school redesign.

This issue is not an easy one to address. Our education system is, by design, decentralized – meaning that implementation of any given philosophy will be inconsistent at best. And plenty of tensions exist as our culture – including our school infrastructure – sheds its manufacturing paradigm and moves toward the knowledge economy. But the dialogue is important…and it's fascinating to observe.

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