April 2, 2019 / Vincennes University’s role is “critical” for
Indiana’s changing economy
Part 1 of a multi-part series
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - A March 29 symposium co-sponsored by
Vincennes University and Conexus Indiana, “Solving the Indiana Skills
Gap, How the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Work-Learn Pipeline
Partnership Succeeds,” brought together influential business leaders,
educational partners, and statewide stakeholders at VU’s Aviation
Technology Center to share success stories and to explore how to build
on existing successful workforce development partnership efforts.
Long recognized for the quality of its academic programs and
graduates, especially in technical fields, VU continues to lead the
way in developing education and work-based learning partnerships that
are filling Indiana’s need for a skilled workforce of tomorrow.
“The role Vincennes [University] plays in linking high school,
higher education, and Indiana employers is critical to our state’s
ability to keep pace with a rapidly changing economy,” confirmed Danny
Lopez, chair of the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet.
As Indiana manufacturers struggle to fill current vacancies and
forecast future needs, work-learn pipeline models - such as Career and
Technical Education (CTE) Early College and VU’s partnerships with
leading employers - have emerged as solutions to developing talented
and qualified candidate pools for every region. Demand is high for
advanced manufacturing talent in Indiana. There are more than 14,900
available jobs, according to the state’s Next Level Jobs initiative website.
“The old model, where first you learn and then you earn, is
simply an outdated way of thinking about education,” said Lopez.
Vincennes University is considered by many as one of the
nation’s best advanced manufacturing schools. More than 20 leading
Indiana manufacturing employers - including Toyota, Subaru, Jasper
Engines, and Kimball International - have partnered with VU to address
the skills gap head-on.
“Vincennes University and our manufacturing partners are really
driving good, quality education to further manufacturing and logistics
in Indiana,” stated Brad Rhorer, chief talent programs officer for
“It's very important that we do this in order to maintain our
GDP [gross domestic product] and the growth of our state.”
VU introduced the concept of CTE Early Colleges a few years
ago. Now, with support from the Legislature and in partnership with
career centers and high schools, VU is helping to address the need for
an educated and skilled workforce by expanding the CTE Early College
model throughout the state. Through CTE Early College, high school
students are offered a higher education experience that prepares them
to simultaneously work toward a certificate or an associate degree
while earning a high school diploma. Many students are workforce-ready
right out of high school or ready to advance their education on an
accelerated path at VU or other Indiana colleges and universities. The
program offers students a chance to gain valuable insight and
experience in career fields, enables them to develop workforce-ready
skills, and saves thousands of dollars on future college credits - all
while still in high school.
Vincennes University President, Chuck Johnson shared with
symposium participants, “Indiana has a focus on CTE Education and
critical middle-skilled career pathways that is making our state the
envy of others. VU, working with partners in industry, K-12, and
higher education throughout Indiana, has established innovative
programs that are helping Indiana leap ahead of other states in
addressing the critical skills gap.”
Afternoon symposium sessions provided overviews of Vincennes
University's CTE Early College and work-based learning programs.
Participants heard about the CTE work-learn pipeline partnership
efforts from both the K-12 educator and the employer's perspectives.
An afternoon session moderated by Rhorer featured a panel of VU
work-based learning employer partners. Panelists representing Cummins,
Toyota, and North American Lighting described how their programs are
working to fill their pipelines with the talent critical to the
continued growth and success of their businesses. Panelists discussed
how they have partnered with VU to address the unique challenges they
face in attracting and developing the workforce of tomorrow.
“We’ve got a tool and die facility in Elberfeld, Indiana. We’ve
got a major expansion coming up and with that major expansion is going
to come a need for that skilled tool and die trade,” said Robert
Woolum, corporate trainer for North American Lighting.
“To be able to fill that pipeline, we partner with VU with
their MIP (Machining Internship Program)…to get those employees that
we are going to need,” Woolum concluded.
A partnership between Porter County Education Services and
Vincennes University has resulted in a very successful CTE Early
College program at the Porter County Career and Technical Center.
“Vincennes has been a major contributor in helping us solve our
local workforce shortage in qualified manufacturing candidates,” said
Jon Groth, director and principal for Porter County Career and
Panelist Pam Mishler-Fish, VU site director, Porter County
Career Center (PCCC), stated, “I am thrilled to talk about our
precision machining program. Students love it, staff and faculty love
it, and industry loves it. We know that we are offering our students
first-class, up-to-date, top-of-the-line education.”
As CTE Early College takes hold, employers are seeing the
benefit of developing a skilled local workforce with the help of VU.
Two Porter County employers, Task Force Tips and Urschel
Laboratories, hire student interns from the CTE Early College
precision machining program at PCCC and support them through the
completion of their VU associate degree program over the next two
years. The result is a pipeline of local machining talent prepared
with the skills and education developed at both the career center and
in VU’s highly regarded program.
Toyota’s Advanced Manufacturing Technician (AMT) program, the
Advanced Internship in Manufacturing (AIM) in the Lafayette region,
and the Career Advancement Partnership (CAP) in Jasper have all been
developed to address critical shortages in the skilled workforce in
each of these regions. These programs combine work-based learning with
a high-quality VU education and students can earn a VU associate
degree through a customized schedule.
Graduates of these programs have career opportunities with
partner employers and their skill sets are highly sought by industry
throughout the state. According to VU’s employer partners, program
graduates can earn $50,000 or more annually immediately after
graduation and many graduates earn six figures within a few years.
VINCENNES UNIVERSITY - Indiana’s First College
VU is state-supported with campuses in Vincennes and Jasper,
the Aviation Technology Center and American Sign Language program in
Indianapolis, Early College Career and Technical Education Centers,
and additional sites such as the Gene Haas Training and Education
Center in Lebanon, the Logistics Training and Education Center in
Plainfield, and the Gibson County Center for Advanced Manufacturing
and Logistics in Fort Branch. A leader in developing Early Colleges
statewide, VU also offers instruction at military sites throughout the nation.
In addition to offering a wide range of associate degree and
certificate programs, VU also offers bachelor’s degree programs in
technology, homeland security, nursing, secondary education programs
in mathematics and science, and special education/elementary education.
VU enrolls students from throughout Indiana, 35 other states,
and 17 countries. Tuition and fees are the lowest among Indiana
campuses with residence halls. VU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Founded in 1801, VU is Indiana’s first college and is the only
college in the nation founded by an individual who would later become
President of the United States. William Henry Harrison, the ninth U.S.
President, founded VU while serving as governor of the Indiana
Territory. More information is available at www.vinu.edu.
Vincennes University Newsroom
VICKIE PUFFER, Communications Coordinator & Online Newsroom
812-888-4162 office, 812-887-4635 cell,
MARCIA MARTINEZ, University
Life Reporter & Sports Information Director
office, 314-599-1519 cell, VUNews@vinu.edu, email@example.com
VINCENNES UNIVERSITY, Department of University Relations, www.vinu.edu/newsroom