KOKOMO, Ind. – The United States Department of Labor has awarded $3.27 million to Ivy Tech Community College Kokomo Region under the federal Youth CareerConnect grant program that will be used to expand career training opportunities from the high school level through a two-year college degree.
The grant will support and expand on Ivy Tech’s Integrated Technology Education Program (ITEP), a career pathway program in industrial technology developed in partnership with 14 area high schools and career centers, as well as local industry. It is one of 24 grants totaling $107 million awarded to programs throughout the nation as part of the Department of Labor/Department of Education effort to integrate education and career skills initiatives to build America’s workforce.
President Barack Obama announced the awards recently while visiting one of the recipient schools in Maryland. The White House launched the Youth CareerConnect grant competition last year to provide students with the “industry-relevant education and skills they need for a successful future.” The federal initiative is designed “to encourage America’s school districts, institutions of higher education, the workforce investment systems and their partners to integrate rigorous educational standards with work experiences and skills in ways that enhance instruction and deliver real-world learning opportunities for students.”
Ivy Tech’s ITEP offers a career pathway that features technical certificates in seven industrial technology fields, an Associate of Applied Science degree in Industrial Technology and a 75-credit-hour Associate of Applied Science degree in Advanced Automation and Robotics Technology. Students can enter the career pathway pipeline at several entry points – as high school students, as college students or as returning adult students, depending on their previous experience and education – and can exit to work after completing any of the three degrees featured in the pathway. The pathway also features two internship or work-study opportunities with area industry partners and opens the possibility of awarding the first degree, a technical certificate in industrial technology, at the high school level through current and future dual-credit agreements.
The grant award will cover two new positions, equipment for Ivy Tech and high school and industry partners, and more than $1.2 million in scholarships and certification cost waivers for participating high school students.
One of Ivy Tech’s primary industry partners on the grant, Chrysler Group LLC, will help cover much of the grant’s match by donating “Engineer in the Classroom” volunteers and a multi-classroom and lab space at the newly opened Tipton Transmission Plant south of Kokomo.
Dr. James E. Woolf, Community Engagement & Educational Services specialist for Chrysler Group in Kokomo, is active in industry-education partnerships in North Central Indiana and part of the team that worked to obtain the Youth CareerConnect grant.
“This grant is great news for the manufacturing industry and for the people of north central Indiana,” Woolf said. “It will provide funding needed to really advance initiatives already under way to develop potential employees with the skill sets required by the advanced manufacturing facilities of today AND tomorrow.
“Industry is begging for employees ready to work in the high-tech, computer-operated, robotic environment that has replaced the dark, dirty, labor-intensive factories of yesterday,” he continued. “And these education initiatives – combining classroom instruction with hands-on experience in labs and on the shop floor – will equip students to take the many well-paying jobs that are opening up as ‘baby boomers’ retire and manufacturing in the United States continues to grow.”
Red Gold, Patriot Porcelain and Kellam Inc. are among other area industry supporters of the project.
“In Indiana there is an increasing demand for qualified technical professionals to fill positions like electrician or mechanic, people prepared to go into operations, quality assurance and distribution jobs,” said Tim Ingle, vice president of Human Resources and Corporate Strategy for Red Gold, a major processor of premium tomato and food products based in Elwood. “Red Gold is looking for the curious and intellectually engaged, like those graduating from this program, who will join our team and make it better.”
Patriot Porcelain, a new business in Kokomo, also is committed to serving as an industry partner in the ITEP program, according to L. Dowal Dellinger, the company’s secretary/treasurer manager.
“New jobs are being created in Kokomo by companies competing on a global market utilizing modern manufacturing techniques and well-trained employees who are able to develop and operate modern production facilities,” Dellinger wrote in a letter supporting the project. “Patriot Porcelain believes this program will assist local students in pursuing a high-growth career path, while also enabling industry to meet the need for a skilled workforce.”
Jeffrey Kellam, president of Kellam Inc., an industrial design build company based in Wabash, believes improving education will directly improve the area’s economic development.
“I see Ivy Tech’s Integrated Technology Education Program as a tool to help Wabash County’s students become highly trained to compete for high level jobs in today’s global economy,” Kellum said. He said he is particularly impressed by program’s “career pathway pipeline” that allows students to build on training they’ve completed, allowing them to apply certifications they’ve earned toward associate degrees at a later date.
Ivy Tech Kokomo Region will spearhead the project, developing an enhanced curriculum in industrial technology and offering financial support for students. The grant will fund career counselors to work with area high schools to share with students and parents the opportunities advanced manufacturing offers. It will also provide in-service training in advanced manufacturing for area high school and career center educators.
Ivy Tech Kokomo Region Chancellor Steve Daily noted the many benefits to area students. “The Youth CareerConnect grant will allow Ivy Tech to provide high school students in the program with financial assistance to cover tuition for college-level courses and also to cover costs of the nationally recognized certifications that are part of these programs and that employers consider so critical when hiring new employees,” Daily said.
“With new equipment funded by the grant,” he continued, “we’ll be offering an innovative and expanding industrial technology program with a progression of certificates and degrees that means a world-class education with graduates prepared to meet the new technology demands of local industries.”
For Rodni Lytle, dean of Ivy Tech Kokomo Region’s School of Technology, the grant will expand on the outstanding opportunities Ivy Tech offers for high school students and adult learners to gain industry skills and valuable credentials.
“Our region offers students a robust technical experience from the classroom to the lab and internship possibilities,” Lytle said. “Our instructors in the technology program have spent years in the industry and this experience is transferred in the classroom and lab. They understand what it takes to be successful in industry and business. Our approach to instruction offers students access to hands-on training and, with the support of the grant, that training will be on new equipment purchased to align with the latest emerging technologies in industry.”
More information about the opportunities provided by the grant will be coming out soon. Participating school districts will be sharing details with students in their high schools. College-ready students can inquire about the ITEP program by calling Ivy Tech Kokomo’s main campus at 800-459-0561.