By Michelle Exstrom
One emerging issue in education is the need to better prepare all students with workforce skills before they leave high school and hit the job market.
Until now, students may have acquired basic skills outside of the classroom through unique opportunities or part-time jobs. The business community, however, is hungry for workers who are both educated and prepared with applicable job skills after they leave high school.
Students also are acquiring large amounts of student debt taking college-level courses, many without completing a degree, only to find that their chosen career only requires a specific licensure, credential or apprenticeship.
As the traditional education system has struggled to prepare students for today’s job market, state and local policymakers have begun to look to other high-performing countries, like Switzerland and Singapore, that have much more effective systems for students to choose and succeed in a career pathway. (Watch an NCSL webinar with the woman who leads the Swiss system.)
In those countries, these opportunities are embedded in every student's secondary experience, and all students leave the system with their secondary education, sometimes completion of college-level coursework, and meaningful job experience and skills.
Indiana businesses, educators and policymakers have been studying and observing the systems in Switzerland and elsewhere and desire to provide a similar experience for all students in the Hoosier State. The legislature has passed several bills to establish the groundwork for meaningful career pathways for all students, and Governor Eric Holcomb recently created a Workforce Cabinet to study and implement a plan.
On Dec. 12, NCSL will partner with Holcomb’s Workforce Cabinet to host a statewide summit in Indianapolis.
During this event, 300 educators, business leaders, executive branch leaders, legislators and school district administrators will gather to learn from U.S. and international experts how to establish a system of youth apprenticeships, career pathways and rigorous career and technical education to build a strong workforce to bolster Indiana’s economy.
The summit also will feature speakers from across Indiana to discuss efforts already underway, and participants will determine the next steps to bring these opportunities to all students.
Michelle Exstrom is the director of NCSL's Education Program.