IUPUC Panel Discussion Provides Glimpse into Future of an Educated Workforce

May 17, 2019
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IUPUC hosted a panel discussion on May 2, 2019 titled Strengthening the Community through an Educated Workforce: A 50-Year Commitment to Building Brighter Futures for All, which brought together community leaders and educators to discuss the impact of post-secondary education on the business community, and how IUPUC can play a role in continuing to provide educated workers to the region.

The panel was moderated by Kathy Oren, Executive Director of the Community Education Coalition (CEC), and included the following panelists:

  • John M. Burnett – CEO, Community Education Coalition (CEC) of Columbus
  • Drew Klacik – Senior Policy Analyst at the IU Public Policy Institute
  • Daniel Noel – Director of Clinical Talent, Columbus Regional Health
  • Srikanth Padmanabhan –Vice President, Cummins Inc.
  • Jim Roberts – Superintendent, Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation
  • Amy Conrad Warner – IUPUI Vice Chancellor for Community Engagement

John Burnett laid the groundwork for the evening by discussing the history of IUPUC, especially the last twenty years which has seen the campus add 11 undergraduate and three graduate degree programs, most of which were initiated due to research compiled by the CEC, the organization for which Burnett is currently CEO.

Throughout the evening, three key ideas seemed to surface, including how technology affects business, education and the workforce; the need to provide focused, skills-based educational opportunities for students; and, the necessity for post-secondary education in a variety of forms in order to maintain a skilled workforce, and to create opportunities for people to enhance their own and their children’s quality of life.

In talking about technology, Srikanth Padmanabhan related a story about how Fifth Avenue in New York on Easter of 1903 had no automobiles, only horse-drawn carriages, but 16 years later on Easter of 1919 that same street had only a single horse-drawn carriage and the rest of the traffic was automobiles. “We are almost at that same inflection point now, 100 years later,” said Padmanabhan. “The mega trends that are happening for us are related to connectivity, automation, right sharing and subscription-based services, and electrification.”

There seemed to be a consensus that post-secondary education is not immune to the technology revolution and that institutions like IUPUC must to find ways to meet the needs of students where they are in their life and career, perhaps with what Amy Conrad Warner called “smaller pieces” that provide stackable skills rather than a degree.

When discussing what an educated workforce might look like in the future, Drew Klacik wasn’t sure, but he was adamant that the workforce would be more diverse, more productive, and he stated that “in the future it's going to be much harder to go from poor to rich if you don't have the ability to use technology, and I think adaptability and flexibility are going to be essential to every worker.”

Daniel Noel provided a glimpse into how post-secondary schools can collaborate with business organizations when he discussed how the EcO Network is working with IUPUC, Ivy Tech Columbus, and area healthcare providers. “It's really amazing how they [EcO Network] brought together the healthcare providers in the region so that we're all at the table with our partners at IUPUC and Ivy Tech, making decisions, talking about what our needs and opportunities are, and really doing some forward thinking about what education could be like.”

A video replay of the panel discussion is available. 

For more information, contact Jay Lesandrini, Director of Communications and Marketing at IUPUC.