Volume 27, No. 2: Career Pathways—Gateway to the Future

Indiana Pathways Innovation Network

Shannon Doody, Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning, University of Indianapolis

The Indiana Pathways Innovation Network (IN-PIN) is a collective impact partnership of three Indiana government agencies (K-12 Education, Higher Education, and Workforce Development) and the statewide nonprofit Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning (CELL). IN-PIN was founded with the support and partnership of the National Center for College and Career Transitions (NC3T). This partnership grew out of workforce needs for more skilled workers and the desire to build stronger education pathways that result in high-wage, high-demand jobs for learners.

IN-PIN consists of over 425 cross-sector members from K-12 education, higher education, adult education, business, workforce development, and convening organizations. IN-PIN works at multiple levels to promote alignment among state leaders, educate cross-sector leaders on pathways systems, and share models to inspire their scaling across the state.

Regional conveners, including business and industry leaders, are networked through statewide leadership conference calls facilitated by NC3T and CELL. Calls focus on topics such as employer engagement, sector organization, and pathways development and provide an opportunity for regional leaders to share promising practices. Kate Lee, Director of Talent Engagement at South Bend Regional Chamber, said, “I believe these conversations are the way we’ll really get the entire state moving in the same direction while still honoring the unique needs and challenges of each region, county, and city.”

Multiple regional workshops around the state have focused on key components of NC3T’s pathways system framework. For example, at a Spring 2016 IN-PIN “Planning For Pathways" workshop, participants from adult education, K-12, workforce development, and human services teamed to identify key occupations, gaps, and action items in a sector such as healthcare.

Promising practices in pathways are showcased through study visits, such as a recent visit to Cub Manufacturing in Madison, Indiana. The Cub operation is modeled after Cardinal Manufacturing in Eleva-Strum, Wisconsin, and is a partnership of Madison Consolidated Schools, Ivy Tech Community College, and local manufacturers. Cub is a student-run business where learners not only gain welding and fabrication skills but also design products, communicate with manufacturing clients, order supplies, and learn about operations.

The power of IN-PIN is that it convenes leaders who are having similar regional conversations but, because of geographical differences, have never met. Indiana leaders from every workforce development region participate in leadership calls; over 150 individuals have attended workshops with cross-sector representation; and leaders traveled as far as 230 miles to learn more about the Cub Manufacturing model. When successes and lessons learned are shared across the state, pathways can be scaled more quickly and effectively. Ultimately more learners will be connected to high-wage, high-demand careers and a higher-skilled workforce will be available to Indiana businesses and industries.

For more information, contact the author at doodys@uindy.edu.