Preparing our future workforce through collaboration, knowledge and design

Smart businesses educate and prepare employees for the future of their company. The state of Illinois, in all of its change and challenge, is being smart by working to educate and prepare its future workforce through collaboration, knowledge and design.

The secretary of education for the state of Illinois, Beth Purvis and her commitment to doing just this is underway with intention and momentum.

Illinois’ P-20 Council is a collaborative that brings together districts, university presidents, community college representatives, policy makers, social service agencies, business owners and more to share critical conversation about strengthening the educational experience to create a talented workforce pipeline.

“There is little hope for delivering on the promise of a quality education if we work in silos,” Purvis says. “We must talk to one another to effectively prepare the next generation of young leaders and employees.”

The P-20 Council is one way to get the leaders of key stakeholder groups into the same conversation.

Building bridges

The P-20 Council aims to build bridges from one institution to the next — sharing information about programs and opportunities that otherwise would remain inside one institution and not forwarded to the next.

From districts to higher education, from student internships in business to agency and career support, the P-20 Council analyzes the educational journey and devises ways to shape a more comprehensive and meaningful experience that supports college persistence and career readiness, ultimately building a thriving Illinois.

Two years into his role as president of Northern Illinois University, Doug Baker inspires with stories and leads with vision, already making strategic progress at the university.

His passion to improve the learning experience of young people runs deep. Doug’s focus and plan for the P-20 agenda in the northern Illinois region provides him a platform to both learn from others and share NIU’s commitments to diversity and inclusion.

“We are responsible for seeing beyond our own university walls, district boundaries or agency perimeters — to build an infrastructure for our young people that will strengthen the pathways and transitions to a career and meaningful life,” Baker says.

This fall, he will continue to serve as a key thought leader in the Northern Illinois Regional P-20 Network, a group that involves 30 partners in the northern Illinois region with goals to increase the proportion of adults in Illinois with high-quality degrees and credentials to 60 percent by the year 2025; graduate 100 percent of students from high school with 12 to 15 college credits and/or a professional certificate; and create seamless transitions across the educational continuum.

This long term and comprehensive approach to rethinking the educational experience will raise the success trajectory for our next generation — exponentially improving outcomes and creating a pipeline of talent prepared for the future workforce.

Is it important that we gather key stakeholders to exchange knowledge, sharpen efficiencies and reimagine the next level of our product?

The education sector thinks so and is compelled to collaborate with urgency to strengthen the educational journey that our young people experience on their road to gainful and meaningful employment — with you. ●

Diana Shulla-Cose is the founder and president of Perspectives Charter Schools.