Indiana Education Leader Committed to Expanding Career Exploration

INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Department of Education wants more Hoosier students to learn about career options early in their education.

According to Indiana’s Secretary of Education, Katie Jenner, students are increasingly exposed to careers that begin in elementary school through guest speakers and other activities.

According to the Indiana Department of Education, 40% of Hoosier High School students have no plans for life after graduation.

Junior Achievement’s annual career fair for eighth graders, held at state fairgrounds, is an example of an effort to reduce that trend, Jenner said during a visit to the event Wednesday.

More than 100 employers and 11,000 students from a variety of fields attended this year’s fair, according to Jennifer Burke, president and CEO of Junior Achievement of Central Indiana.

“We think this is a very important time to reach out to students,” says Burk.

Jenner echoed that sentiment. By choosing a career path in middle school, students will have more opportunities in high school, she said.

“Job-based learning opportunities and access to valuable qualifications, including CTEs,” says Jenner, in terms of career and technical education.

With jobs in growing fields like semiconductor manufacturing heading to Indiana, Jenner focuses on preparing students for the careers of today and tomorrow.

“We know that in the K-12 space, especially in grades 11 and 12, we have to be very agile about the classes and pathways we offer our students,” Jenner said.

After visiting the career fair, several students said they would use what they learned to pursue their passions.

“I want to go to business because we went to the business part, and that was one of my favorite things,” said eighth grader Cici.

“I’m going to work on technology,” said Donathan, another eighth grader. “Anyway, it’s what I wanted to do when I grew up. So I really want to acquire skills.”

The Indiana Department of Education currently uses career surveys as one method of measuring school district performance. That data will be available on the state’s online education dashboard this fall, according to state officials.

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