Kathy Jonas | March 16, 2019
A second-grade teacher raises her hand and says she’s reluctant to tell her students that they need to think about a career path when they are seven years old. “They’re just babies,” she adds.
Panelists at the STEM Forum XII at Notre Dame last month agreed that second grade might be a little young, but waiting until eighth grade is considered too late in today’s connected and increasingly automated global economy.
“We need to push exploration in the upper elementary grades,” according to Carrie Lively, a former educator and administrator who now is senior director with the Indiana Office of Work Based Learning and Apprenticeship. “What we hear most from employers is: ‘I need people today’ and ‘I need to sustain long-term growth.’ “
All four panelists in the session entitled “Indiana Career Readiness Requirements” provided sobering statistics regarding the future workforce. For example, 40 percent of those attending a four-year college in Indiana will not complete a degree within six years and, in many cases, will be burdened with significant debt. Thirty percent of college freshmen drop out by the end of the year. On the other end of the equation, as baby boomers continue to retire, the job skills gap widens in the technical-skills arena. It is predicted that of 700,000 jobs that need to be replaced in the Hoosier state, only 300,000 of those will be filled because of lack of qualified workers.
Consider the fact that there are an average 559 students per guidance counselor in the state, according to Matt Davis, manager of training at ITAMCO, a precision gear manufacturer.
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