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Building Futures: IPS Rebuilding Stronger Initiative Connects Students with Local Industry

 As an integral part of its Rebuilding Stronger initiative, Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) is taking a bold step towards preparing students for the workforce with a strategic partnership with professional partners selected through an open review process.

The IPS Workforce and Career Development project is designed to provide students with hands-on experience and exposure to real-world challenges within the architecture, engineering, and construction professions.

The initiative is being coordinated by Robin Winston, who runs the Indianapolis-based Winston/Terrell Group, one of the largest minority-owned government affairs, community relations, and public outreach firms in the nation. Winston’s firm is also working with Black Onyx Management on the coordination of supplier diversity outreach and support efforts. 

The workforce development efforts are led by career development leadership at the four district-managed high schools. Together, they are working with Winston to review applications completed by students genuinely interested in exploring new career options in those fields. The goal is to help place at least one student with each of the IPS partners over the next several months.

“By placing students in meaningful internships and apprenticeships, we not only bridge the gap between classroom learning and practical application but also nurture IPS’ goal to establish a pipeline of skilled professionals ready to contribute to the local workforce,” Winston said. “By immersing students in these dynamic environments, IPS seeks to instill a passion for innovation and problem-solving, preparing them for the demands of the rapidly evolving professional landscape.”

Several local firms are working on the $410 million Rebuilding Stronger initiative, which will upgrade about 23 elementary and middle schools throughout the district. 

The initiative comes at a time when worker shortages are plaguing both the professional and skilled workforce ranks.

In 2021, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that total construction employment was forecasted to rise from 7.03 million in 2021 to 7.28 million in 2031, for a net need of more than 25,000 workers per year. This represents a forecast of average annual construction employment growth of 3.6% per year.

The initiative also would benefit their students wanting to go to college but need a better understanding of architecture, engineering, or construction management. 

“If you are a high school junior, it will be very difficult to get into the field without going to one of the few colleges in Indiana that offers these degrees,” Winston said. “So, students have to begin preparing now and work on improving their grades.”

Members of the IPS Career Readiness staff believe the initiative’s benefits extend beyond the students, positively impacting the local economy by fostering collaboration between the education and industry sectors. 

In addition to Rebuilding Stronger, construction in Indianapolis is booming with more than $9 billion in planned projects over the next decade according to the State of Downtown report issued by Downtown Indy, Inc. earlier this year.