Conexus announces pilot schools for innovative high school manufacturing and logistics curriculum

Conexus announces pilot schools for innovative high school manufacturing and logistics curriculum

Six Indiana high schools will give students a head-start on high-tech AML jobs; schools in Indianapolis, Hammond, Terre Haute, Evansville and Batesville will debut new program

(INDIANAPOLIS, March 1, 2012) Conexus Indiana, the state’s advanced manufacturing and logistics (AML) initiative, today announced six Hoosier high schools and career centers that will pilot its new high school-level AML curriculum this fall.  The curriculum, designed to give Indiana students a head-start on careers in the state’s largest economic sector, will debut at George Rogers Clark High School & Area Career Center (Hammond, Indiana); the Area 31 Career Center at Ben Davis High School (Indianapolis); The Excel Center (Indianapolis); Terre Haute North High School; North High School and Southern Indiana Career/Technical Center (Evansville); and Batesville High School.

Conexus began exploring a high school AML curriculum over a year ago, responding to calls from industry for a higher-skilled, better-prepared workforce.  Today’s manufacturing and logistics jobs demand increasingly advanced technical skills; the majority of workers in this sector have now completed a college degree or industry training credential.  With a rapidly aging workforce, employers have struggled to identify and hire younger employees with appropriate education. 

“It became clear that we need a new model to train the next generation of manufacturing and logistics workers,” said Conexus President & CEO, Steve Dwyer.  “Our goal is hand-in-hand collaboration between industry and academia to create the right programs that are teaching the skills that employers really need, a pathway to employment that begins in high school.”

With feedback from a broad array of employers and educators and the support of the Indiana Department of Education, Conexus is creating a program that is a mixture of online, hands-on and project-based units that will expose students to key concepts in these industries.  The curriculum also offers dual-credit opportunities that will position students to successfully pursue relevant certifications, associate degrees or four-year programs after graduation.   Ivy Tech Community College was a significant partner in shaping the curriculum to provide a seamless transition to post-secondary studies.

The six pilot schools will test the curriculum before it is made available to districts statewide in 2013.  More than 150 students at the pilot schools have already signed up for the program, with enrollment ongoing.

“We’re very pleased that there has been so much interest from students in the pilot schools, and we think that will be replicated across the state next year,” said Dwyer.  “We already have fifty superintendents and career center directors committed to offering the curriculum in their districts.”

Dwyer added that enthusiasm about the curriculum shows that manufacturing and logistics remain the state’s economic foundation and primary source of quality job opportunities.

“Economists at Ball State tell us that manufacturing employment has grown 5% since the end of the recession, while most industries have struggled to add jobs,” he said.  “The State of Indiana attracted more manufacturing and logistics jobs than any other industries last year.  And with Baby Boomers retiring in greater numbers every day, career opportunities will be plentiful.

“The challenge is finding qualified applicants to take these jobs – this curriculum is a first step for a new generation of workers.”

Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett agreed that more options for teaching an advanced manufacturing and logistics curriculum are a welcome addition.

“We’re working every day to make sure students leave high school with the skills they need to be successful in work and life,” Bennett said.  “When schools and private companies can work together to develop and implement a quality curriculum, they create more pathways to connect students to high-paying careers in their future.”

The development of the AML curriculum was funded by Conexus Indiana, with the support of its industry and philanthropic partners, and will be provided to the State of Indiana and school corporations statewide at no taxpayer expense.

Launched by the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, Conexus Indiana is the state’s advanced manufacturing and logistics initiative, dedicated to making Indiana a global leader.  Conexus is focused on strategic priorities like workforce development, creating new industry partnerships and promoting Indiana’s advantages in manufacturing and logistics.  Learn more at www.ConexusIndiana.com.

Contact: Chris Watts, Central Indiana Corporate Partnership/Conexus Indiana