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Higher ed moves closer into alignment in Indiana July 13, 2006

Posted by Tom in Economic Development, Education, Workforce.
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I had the opportunity to address the 30th annual Richey Symposium for the Indiana University School of Continuing Studies today with my counterpart from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. Continuing Studies is critical to a proper alignment of workforce and economic development because their programming can fill the role of filling career-relevant gaps in an individual’s education without forcing the worker to become a full-time student.

Here’s a PDF of the presentation that I gave to the School’s regional directors and overall leadership. Long story short, I overviewed the changes taking place in the world of workforce in Indiana – especially the paradigm shift away from being strictly a social service provider and more of an economic development partner. To that end, I outlined a handful of the State’s major new initiatives and then suggested some avenues where the Continuing Studies professionals might best travel to be a meaningful participant in this discussion.

The Strategic Skills Initiative also came up, and I highlighted two SSI awards for the local Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne campus and the Life Sciences award received by the School of Continuing Studies in Bloomington.

I also put together a CD-ROM with resource material on Indiana’s workforce and economic development systems, geared toward offering points of contact, strategic background literature and organizational overviews. This electronic tool appeared to be warmly received by a group of participants who wanted to be part of the “Convergence” movement but weren’t sure exactly how to go about it.

Perhaps the most exciting part of the presentation was the Q&A period that followed. In both my and my IEDC counterpart’s cases, the level of interest in directing efforts toward leveraging the continuing studies tools of Indiana University toward business-oriented, demand-driven outcomes was impressive.

I sensed that these people want to partner with the State of Indiana and with local employers to provide customized training solutions – even create new training options if nothing on the shelf fits the client’s needs. They understood the need to orient themselves through the strategic plan documents for the IEDC and Indiana Workforce Development, build relationships with regional and local economic developers, and take their respective regional programs to the next level.

A good dialogue was started today, and I believe that the State and its residents will benefit.

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