Industry, educators begin discussions on future workforce needs

2013-03-15T00:00:00Z Industry, educators begin discussions on future workforce needsJoyce Russell, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2222

PORTAGE | Representatives of educational facilities, industry and workforce development sat down together Thursday morning to discuss how the three could work together to provide the necessary skills for the jobs of the present and the future.

"This was excellent," said Aco Sikoski, vice chancellor at Ivy Tech Community College. "We got to hear what industry needs and now we can get those skills in and adjust our curriculum."

The initial discussion was sponsored by the Portage Economic Development Corporation's education committee. Held at the University Center, discussion was led by Linda Woloshansky, president of The Center of Workforce Innovations and Diane Thalmann, PEDCO education committee chair.

Representatives from Portage Township Schools, Porter County Career and Technical Center, New Vistas High School and Ivy Tech spoke with representatives of seven industries located in Portage.

"This opens the doors to getting a better workforce," said Ron Vessell, site operations manager for Carmeuse Lime and Stone.

"We are different businesses, but we have the same issues," said Jeffrey Fleming, president of Trans-United Specialized Hauling.

Both agreed that some of those issues include the basics — from writing a resume to an emphasis on being on time for a job.

The idea, said Jim Fitzer, executive director of PEDCO, was to get the principals involved to let industry know of education not only what skills are needed of the workforce, but what opportunities are available in Portage for youngsters still in high school.

The group talked about the possibility of creating externships which would allow teachers to spend time in the various industries; tours of industry by students and having industry representatives come to schools to talk to students.

Fitzer said the effort will culminate on Oct. 4 with a National Manufacturer's Day event at the University Center.

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