IVY Tech A Beacon Of Hope In Challenging Times

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IVY Tech A Beacon Of Hope In Challenging Times

By Chris Lowery, Senior Vice President for Workforce Alignment, Ivy Tech Community College

Throughout its history, Ivy Tech Community College has always prioritized one specific goal: making our economy stronger by understanding and responding to employer needs and providing students with the skills required to succeed in the workforce. This work has proven relevant in good times and in bad, but Ivy Tech has always been especially vital when Indiana faced its most pressing challenges. And today, we are witnessing this once again given the economic fallout from the global coronavirus pandemic.

In the wake of COVID-19, many Hoosiers have filed for unemployment and many employers are struggling to find a path forward. This comes on top of the challenges Indiana already faces in terms of workforce development, as documented in the recently released Indiana Chamber of Commerce report entitled Indiana Vision 2025: 2020 Snapshot. Ivy Tech is committed to leading the way toward Indiana’s recovery. In close collaboration with multiple state agencies, private businesses, philanthropy and nonprofits, Ivy Tech is working on key initiative areas that draw upon our strengths as a College with statewide reach. These initiatives not only complement our mission, but they underscore our legacy as a bridge of opportunity between relief and transformation, and as a beacon of hope in challenging times.

We began this work in May, by offering 10,000 free online classes in relevant high-demand areas, including advanced manufacturing, business, and cybersecurity. We chose these courses in collaboration with employers and other partners and aligned them with existing and future job opportunities. The response has been outstanding, with individuals in communities throughout the state enrolling and completing courses that will make them better equipped to succeed in a current or a new field. Because of the success of this initiative, we plan to offer more training to meet evolving workforce needs throughout the summer.

We’re also working to make our Career Coaching and Employer Connections team available to all Hoosiers, regardless of any past association with Ivy Tech. The team matches our students and alumni with employers, with services ranging from resume and interview preparation to career advising and planning, and job postings. And now, it’s available to everyone in Indiana. We will continue to provide new ways to connect Indiana residents and employers.

We’re equally as committed to serving the employers who will benefit from a more highly skilled workforce. Last month we launched a resource page exclusively for Indiana employers that has been added to our website (IvyTech.edu/employerresources). It includes training opportunities to help businesses as they reopen and guidance on complying with OSHA and CDC requirements. 

Ivy Tech is also helping employers and government by serving as an information clearinghouse. As the pandemic unfolded, Ivy Tech began developing a weekly economic and workforce situation report that is shared on our website, to leaders across the state, and anyone who wants access. This report draws upon intelligence from respected sources as well as on-the-ground economic information and regional sources, reflective of our unique ability to convene conversations nationally, regionally, and locally.

Finally, we’re serving as a convener, with our final initiative being a close collaboration with community- and faith-based organizations to better understand the needs of Indiana’s most vulnerable citizens and communities. The goal of this focus is to work with grassroots organizations in more effectively reaching our fellow Hoosiers who have been disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 crisis and systemic social and economic challenges.  Ivy Tech is Indiana’s front door to post-secondary education and high-value credentials.  We have a particular responsibility to ensure Hoosiers of color and lower incomes are welcomed and thrive with us.

 Ultimately, we know the Ivy Tech mission is more relevant now than ever. Through these initiatives, we are aligned to serve as the engine behind Indiana’s rapid recovery and to provide hope for our fellow Hoosiers. We are committed to doing even more as additional needs are identified. To learn more about this commitment, visit IvyTech.edu/RapidRecovery.

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