Indiana University Teams with Purdue Polytechnic Institute to Improve Workforce Readiness

Students with the Workplace Simulation project build their robot

The Center for P-16 Research and Collaboration at the Indiana University School of Education has teamed with the Purdue Polytechnic Institute, one of 10 academic colleges at Purdue University, to improve students’ workforce readiness throughout Indiana and beyond.

The dual-university partnership will address strategies to fill vacancies in Indiana by better preparing students for the workforce. Currently, 2 million Hoosiers need additional training to compete in the 21st century workforce and fill the estimated 1 million job openings in Indiana by 2025 due to retirements and the creation of new jobs. There were 6 million open jobs in the United States in April, a record high, according to data released last week by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. This comes at a time when 6.8 million unemployed Americans are looking for jobs. The collaboration between the universities is critical in order to address the issue on a state-wide level.

“There’s a sense of urgency to the matter of an under-prepared generation of employees as the United States experiences an aging and retiring workforce,” said Geanie Umberger, Purdue Polytechnic associate dean for engagement. “The country needs its high schools and colleges to produce successful students who are ready to become capable workers in all fields, but especially in STEM-related areas.”

The P-16 Center is named for its focus on students in their academic years from pre-kindergarten through college graduation. The goal of the P-16 Center is to improve college access, retention and success – especially for minority students – by strengthening pre-college preparation and supporting the transition to college. The P-16 Center was created because many students, including those who succeeded in high school, falter in college.

“The P-16 Center focuses on creating opportunities for learners to achieve their academic and professional goals through initiatives that enhance teacher quality, and support college and career readiness, transformational education leadership, and global education,” said Dionne Cross Francis, P-16 Director.
In conjunction with its mission to improve college access and retention, the P-16 Center strives to improve students’ STEM skills and to better prepare students for entering the workforce.

Along with its specialization in technology-focused education, Purdue Polytechnic created CareerMakers, an industry-led workforce education and training initiative. CareerMakers is the workforce and professional education concierge for employers; it flips the current model and focuses on the employer, offering customizable workforce education. CareerMakers offers programming from workshops, credit-bearing and non-credit-bearing certificates, through B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. (along with TechD) degree programs offered by Purdue.

A CareerMakers office will be affiliated with all nine of Purdue Polytechnic’s statewide locations, as well as some select locations, such as Westgate Academy near Crane Navel.

“Our first few months with Purdue Polytechnic have been very exciting and fruitful,” said John Mensch, president of the WestGate Authority. “We look forward to growing this important relationship.”