In June, the Hamilton County Council will be asked to fund $425,000 for the Hamilton County Center for Career Achievement.
At the council’s May 5 meeting, councilors Ken Alexander and Steve Nation, OneZone Chamber of Commerce President Jack Russell, Noblesville Chamber of Commerce President Bob DuBois, Hamilton Heights Schools Supt. Derek Arrowood and others spoke about the progression and need for the Hamilton County Center for Career Achievement.
The career center would be a partnership between various school districts and other groups in Hamilton County to offer CTE, or career and technical education, pathways for students in trades such as energy, agriculture science, skilled trades like construction management, exercise science and more.
DuBois said although Hamilton County has many great amenities, there is a struggle to meet the community’s workforce demands.
“That is the top issue, and it’s been the top issue for my seven years of living here,” DuBois said. “It’s going to look that way going forward. We have done so many good things together, and when we come together as a county, we can do great things in this area.”
Instead of constructing a brick-and-mortar career center, instead the school districts in Hamilton County are pledging to partner together and with other entities such as local chamber of commerce and the county to offer the CTE programs.
“There seems to be a missing link for good quality CTE education programs that reside in Hamilton County,” DuBois said. “We can do this. We can bring these programs home to our community. We need to be nimble. We need to be able to react to the needs of the business community.”
Russell said even during the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an increase in new businesses moving to Hamilton County, therefore leading to an increased demand for workforce. Russell said the top three items for economic development are public safety, schools and labor.
“Hamilton County has the best public safety and best schools, and we have an opportunity with something like this to have the best workforce in our state and even our region,” Russell said.
Through enhancing programs already available at some of the county’s school districts, the Hamilton County Center for Career Achievement. would better connect employers with the future workforce. It would offer internships, apprentice-like programs and job shadowing opportunities.
“This gives a better understanding of all the cool companies we get the chance to work with every day that our kids don’t know about,” DuBois said. “This is a chance to connect all that and get some kids some real exposure.”
Currently, 2 percent of the county’s students are traveling outside of Hamilton County to receive CTE training at other locations. DuBois said the goal with the career center is to increase that number to 10 to 15 percent but keep those students in Hamilton County for the training.
If the council approves the $425,000 funding request at its June meeting, that would provide two-and-a-half years of funding in order to hire an executive director for the career center, fund research and development and implement alignment and enrollment.
Councilor Sue Maki asked how the program decides which industries to focus on.
“That’s why the chamber is here,” Nation said. “We need to constantly reach out to the business community and find out so we can go back to the junior high and high school levels and say here are opportunities coming about in Hamilton County, here’s what you can expect to earn, all those types of things. We will adapt based on the economy and what the needs of the kids are and the businesses are.”
The next Hamilton County Council meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. June 2. For more, visit hamiltoncounty.in.gov.