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Some of the city’s leading employers this year will join three local colleges when a Sept. 19 education and career festival returns for its second year.
Cummins Inc., Enkei America Inc. and Columbus Regional Health, for example, will have booths for the first time at Community Ed Fest. Those employers hope to send a strong message to local residents that rewarding and well-paying career paths are available nearby.
The colleges working together to sponsor the event are IUPUC, Purdue College of Technology and Ivy Tech Community College — Columbus/Franklin. They are appealing to people of all ages to improve educational levels of residents and fill local companies’ demands for a skilled workforce.
At Community Ed Fest, for example:
The event’s educational showcase component will be deeper than what attendees saw last year, said Stephanie Weber, community and outreach coordinator for EcO15, a local initiative to improve education.
Randy Proffitt, executive director of marketing and communications for Ivy Tech, said people will be able to see specifically how the training they can obtain locally from the colleges’ various degree programs ties into what employers want.
Steve Mackey, learning development leader for Cummins Southern Indiana Operations, said the Columbus-based engine maker jumped at the chance to participate. He said the event gives Cummins access to a pool of people who might be interested in pursuing a job with the company.
He said the fact that colleges will have booths alongside the companies means Cummins can explain to people the job openings it has, tell them the skills they’d need to acquire them and point them to the college booth that can provide the proper curriculum.
Cummins has immediate openings for mechanical engineering technicians, which are among the most difficult jobs to fill, Mackey said. He said those technicians must have extensive training in diesel engine technology and be able to diagnose and analyze.
“It’s a niche trade that takes very specific skills,” Mackey said.
The Community Education Coalition, a nonprofit organization that is working to help prepare local students for well-paying jobs, is paying for Community Ed Fest in partnership with the local colleges.
The coalition and its partners have set a goal of raising college-degree fulfillment in Columbus from about 40 percent of adults now to about 60 percent, although a specific timeline has not been set to achieve that goal.
“It’s a perfect opportunity for anyone with a question regarding higher education to ask the people who know,” Proffitt said. “We’re connecting higher education with real opportunities available today in the workplace.”
Weber said more than 1,000 people attended last year’s Ed Fest, which was in October. She said she expects closer to 1,500 this time, with promotional material distributed to a 10-county region instead of solely Bartholomew County.
Event organizers also hope to attract more people from the local community by holding an educational session for the Latino community, Weber said. She said an instructor will talk to people in their own language about applying for college, scholarships and financial aid.
Speakers for that will be from IUPUC and the local Ivy Tech region.
A year from now, student housing is expected to be constructed and open near the colleges, which is expected to spur enrollment on the Columbus-based campuses. The housing developer also will be represented at the education fair.
Get on the right path toward the career you want Sept. 19
What: Community Ed Fest
When: 5:30 to 8 p.m. Sept. 19
Where: Campus Quad, directly behind the Columbus Learning Center, 4555 Central Ave. Free parking available on campus lots.
Scholarships: Submit a 500-word essay or three-minute YouTube video about why you want to attend college in Columbus. Contest rules and applications at communityedfest.com. Entries due by 5 p.m. Sept. 6.
Door prizes: Computer tablet, gift cards to local stores and restaurants, and tickets to the Indianapolis Zoo. Pick up an Ed Fest Passport when you arrive. Collect two stamps on your passport to be eligible.
5:30 to 6 p.m. — Free festival food will be served.
6 to 6:15 p.m. — A local official will discuss local workforce development needs and how local higher education options prepare job seekers for careers with top employers.
6:15 to 6:30 p.m. — Leaders from IUPUC, Ivy Tech Community College and Purdue College of Technology will announce $1,000 scholarship winners.
6:30 to 7:30 p.m. — Self-guided campus tours and free public entertainment will be available. Entertainment includes music, bounce houses, face painting for children and bean bag competitions for older teens and adults.
7:30 p.m. — Door prize winners announced. Must be present to win.
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