To our Ecosystem Partners, Supporters and Influencers –
Over the past decade, Indianapolis has seen an 80 percent increase in individuals living in poverty. This is unacceptable. In an effort to discontinue impoverishing more families, EmployIndy aims to not only grow our programs and initiatives, but to invest in services for residents directly impacted by lack of access to education and training and jobs not paying a living, middle class wage.
In 2017, EmployIndy made a promise to the community to be a catalyst for change. Through addressing systemic barriers for entry-level workers by supporting employers; creating a positive trajectory for young adults by providing them with increased opportunities; and allocating resources to invest in our most marginalized neighborhoods, EmployIndy has recently concluded the second year of its strategic effort to establish a comprehensive workforce ecosystem for Indianapolis.
While there is still more work to be done, I invite you to peruse the highlights of our efforts throughout program year 2018. As EmployIndy reflects on year two of our Strategic Plan, we call out the barriers to quality employment for residents living in poverty and identify the tactical solutions that serve as a cornerstone to our programs and initiatives for underserved and underrepresented neighbors. By expanding our community reach through high school and postsecondary initiatives and increasing our access to individuals who are upskilling and re-engaging in the workforce, EmployIndy has played a major role in investing in the education, training and job placement of tens of thousands of residents.
We could not have done this without our partners. From educators in the K-12 space to passionate and committed employers to community and faith-based organizations working directly with previously incarcerated workers, we have come together to provide hope, encourage determination, inspire resiliency, reduce barriers and open doors for success.
Thank you to all our stakeholders who have played a role in identifying and executing on solutions that focus on increasing access and opportunity for our fellow Indianapolis residents. EmployIndy continues to grow these pivotal relationships as we endeavor with your help to build a pipeline of workers for a strong regional economy, invest in young people and contribute to reversing the growth of poverty in our community.
– Angela Carr Klitzsch, EmployIndy President & CEO
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Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) students from Indiana School for the Deaf and Arsenal Technical High School participated in a Talent Tour at ProLogistix on Thursday, September 5, utilizing hands-on stations and learning about multiple facets of the logistics industry.
ProLogistix is a staffing firm that prepares job seekers for logistics careers by training them in the technology that they will use in their job, including forklifts and item scanners.
Kristen Bevins, ProLogistix division vice president, voiced enthusiasm for the value that experiences like this can provide students. “I think that it’s important for people to know what kind of jobs are out there and to know what kind of career to go after. In high school there are so many options – how do you pick? You don’t know until you actually go out and see it firsthand whether or not it’s something you like.”
ProLogistix is one of many local businesses that EmployIndy is working with to provide work-based learning experiences for Indy residents, particularly young adults, as part of its Talent Bound initiative. Utilizing a grant from JPMorgan Chase from earlier this year, Talent Bound is currently being built as a connective platform to match schools with employers for these types of events, and other activities like classroom talks, internships, job shadowing, mentoring, and apprenticeships.
Business/education partnerships like these “could be a way for students to learn how to drive a forklift and go into the workforce right out of high school,” said Johny Anderson, JAG specialist at Arsenal Technical High School. “I think this experience was great for the students to actually try out the forklift simulator and learn more about the forklifts as well as learn about different careers and opportunities in logistics itself.”
In addition to these hands-on experiences, the students spoke with a ProLogistix sales representative, a human resources generalist from Meritor, and Laura Steele from the Hendricks Logistics Sector Partnership, learning about various career paths in the industry.
Nigel Franklin, a junior at Arsenal Technical High School, moved to Indianapolis from Virginia this summer. “During enrollment, my counselor gave me this class and I’ve loved it ever since,” he said. His favorite part of the day was learning about the different types of machines and getting to try on the harness for the cherry picker forklift. After spending the day learning about the logistics industry, he said, “I am definitely interested in logistics. Hopefully I have more tours like this coming up.”
Talent Tours are a great chance to share the core mission of your business with young learners, while also showing the variety of employment opportunities and skills needed to keep your business moving. By providing a better understanding of your work to young adults, you can plant a seed for potential future talent to consider the varying areas of your industry as a they make decisions that lead them into their career. EmployIndy can help facilitate your organization’s involvement in work-based learning through a menu of options in our Talent Bound work-based learning toolkit – learn more by connecting with an employer engagement manager.
Students watch as Kristin Bevins demonstrates the cherry picker forklift.
Student tries the virtual reality forklift simulator.
JAG students from Indiana School for the Deaf
JAG students from Arsenal Technical High School
Posted on June 25th, 2019 in Success Story
On a sunny Friday afternoon in early June, the chatter is high near the back of the DECO Coatings campus. A large space with multiple warehouse-sized buildings, DECO Coatings is an industrial coating business located just southwest of downtown Indy, with a long list of organizational certifications, that handles primarily industrial and government projects. The group of students and parents and DECO staff could be easy to miss if not for the cheerful conversations – they are all gathered in and around a small standalone building that looks like a little house.
Family and staff gather for the graduation recognition
“We had a building, and some big ideas,” said DECO’s president, Janet South. This is the building where students learn, careers take off, and a family has been formed through a unique collaboration. “Tracy Hartman of EmployIndy introduced us to The Crossing School – we will be forever grateful for that.”
Hartman is one of EmployIndy’s employer engagement managers who works with local businesses to uncover opportunities related to their workforce needs. This introduction and guidance has resulted in a rich work-based learning program that brings students from The Crossing School into DECO for a combination of “academics, skill building, work experience, and training – but also mentorship from the heart,” said Crossing School regional director, Alyssa Vanvactor. “We hope to provide students the ability to be a contributing member of their community, while also training up the next round of our partners’ employees.”
She describes The Crossing School (which has campuses all over Indiana) as a landing spot for students who struggle in traditional high school due to various barriers or learning styles. Locally they also partner with Gaylor Electric and Kirby Risk, with the DECO partnership officially kicking off in January of 2019 with a small cohort of high school juniors and seniors.
“It is far beyond what we expected,” Janet South said, acknowledging the time and effort that went into setting up the infrastructure for such a collaboration, but also gushing with excitement for the program. “Beyond the return on investment for developing talent, it has been amazing for our existing staff.”
Graduates with new DECO gear pose with leadership staff
Initially, South’s staff of skilled tradespeople were concerned about the students slowing down their fast-paced work environment – but after just a short amount of time and training, they were singing a different tune.
For existing staff, South said “building this community increases job satisfaction. It is hard work, but has lead to higher-level buy-in because they feel accountable for the students – it has changed the morale for all of us.”
As for the students involved, she noted their growth as an exciting new part of what used to be routine work. “Students learned that a ‘menial task’ was a big necessity for their coworkers – and they don’t want to let people down. You could watch these young people developing the trait of accountability.” Additionally, students were able to participate in trade shows, work off-site for projects, receive hands-on equipment training, and earn valuable industry certifications like OSHA 10 or OSHA 30 that can help them continue a career at DECO or elsewhere.
On this sunny Friday afternoon, the crowd of parents, classmates, and program contributors are gathered to recognize two students who have fully invested in the program and are set to begin their internationally recognized two-year SSPC apprenticeship, right there at DECO. “Students graduate ready to be hired,” said Vanvactor. “Many of them stay and become a part of the company, because it is already their home.”
Kenny Bacon, 2019 graduate
That is exactly what graduate Kenny Bacon plans to do, citing a semester at DECO as good preparation to move from student to coworker. “This built me as a better person, it motivated me,” said Bacon. “Now I am officially hired to keep learning hard skills and soft skills. Before January 15th, I had no plan – this has helped me as a person to have better priorities, and now I have lots of opportunity.”
EmployIndy’s Tracy Hartman identifies this partnership as a prime example of the way local businesses can and should engage with young people to build skilled talent pipeline in a tight labor market. “Essentially they are getting a chance to ‘try before they buy,'” says Hartman. “After a time of bonding and mentoring, it is clear if they will be a good fit.”
And what of a student who might not be a good fit? “Not all students enter the apprenticeship program,” said South. “One of them will be working in our office.”
She was speaking about Eanne Beuoy, a student who struggled with the manual labor and the heat and sweat of coating work on the floor. Eager to find a role that could be a better fit for Eanne, Janet South moved her into the air conditioned office where she has been able to develop administrative skills that are also important to DECO.
“I had a hard time being on the floor,” Beuoy said, “but I fit in the office, being organized with files and working on my social skills on the phones.” She was provided a call script for phone calls, and worked with South to practice customer service while also diving into the details of supporting the administrative work of the office.
Her mother, Lara Beuoy, was excited to see Eanne continue with DECO into her senior year. “It’s obvious people learn differently,” she said. “[Eanne] excels with this hands-on style of learning. This has really been wonderful – the confidence in succeeding this way is amazing.”
DECO staff pose with framed “thank you” note from students
The willingness from the top of DECO’s leadership to support students transitioned into an entire staff who worked to lift up these students, with everyone involved and quick to describe the group as “family.” Grateful students even banded together, unprompted, to write a thoughtful “thank you” to a DECO member who took particular care of their learning and growth.
For all the positives, there is nuance to a work-based learning arrangement like this one – details had to be ironed out regarding an initial investment, tax credits, space for class, and a small computer lab for student work. And even though this year’s graduates are sticking to the apprenticeship path, there is no guarantee that students will stay with DECO after they matriculate.
But for South, Vanvactor, Hartman, and all the students involved, it has become about more than that.
As Janet South says, “These students may not stay at DECO, but wherever they land they will have skill sets that employers will value for the rest of their lives.”
To see how your business can get involved in work-based learning, contact us.