By Anna Skinner
In line with Gov. Mike Pence’s desire to provide a sufficient and skilled workforce for businesses in Indiana, the Westfield Chamber of Commerce’s focus for 2015 is workforce development for the local business community.
On March 27, five panelists discussed the Westfield labor force at Charleston’s Restaurant. The panelists, which consisted of employers and school leaders, spoke of concerns and developed strategies to present to the chamber.
Westfield Workplace: Today & Tomorrow was the first of six events in the Economic Development series. The topic of the panel was to discuss how to prepare the students who do not pursue college for careers immediately after high school.
Panelists Joel Watson, owner of Esler’s Auto Repair, Inc., and Rex Martin, vice president of MHG Hotels, LLC, spoke on their concerns for finding the right people to employ.
“The biggest challenge for me is finding people with the right work ethic,” Watson said. “We need people who are committed to success and committed to doing the job.”
However, it is not always lack of education that causes the applicants to falter.
“What we are looking for is the service training and life skills, and we are not seeing that,” Martin said. “We need to have the right people get to those applicants at an early stage so they have the right ethic when they come out to apply.”
The three educational leaders – WHS Principal Stacey McGuire; Elizabeth Meguschar, assistant principal of Noblesville High School; and Daniel Clark, president of Hamilton County Ivy Tech campus – offered solutions.
“At Westfield High School, our ultimate goal is to prepare kids for the day after graduation,” McGuire said. “When they wake up that day after, do they have the cognitive and the non-cognitive pieces to go do and be what they want to go do and be?”
Ivy Tech aligns their classes with what the local workforce is searching for.
“The real source of your workforce comes from the high school. There are no two better places that do this than WHS and NHS,” Watson said.
“Kids don’t know what they don’t know, so a challenge we have been facing is when is the right time to expose them to these different career choices?” Meguschar said, adding that in the past three years NHS has implemented an internship program for those students.
The next panel of the series, developer presentation, is April 24 at Charleston’s Restaurant.