The Madison Region Economic Partnership (MadREP) announced today that it has 41 school districts and 210 employers in the region signed on to participate in the Inspire Madison Region Program. The Inspire initiative is designed to better connect business and education by enabling students to explore career options with local employers through experiential learning activities which may include communicating directly with mentors, job shadowing, internships, apprenticeships and plant tours. The businesses that have signed on have also pledged 235 mentors/coaches and committed more than a thousand experiential learning activities.
“The workforce pipeline is critical to economic development and we are delighted to see so many districts and employers embracing this program as one of the many options for developing that pipeline,” said Paul Jadin, President of MadREP. “The program is an integral part of our Advance Now Strategy as well as the mission of our Business and Education Collaborative (BEC). We created the BEC to link business and education, and Inspire does exactly that.”
The initiative supplements the Career Cruising platform and is provided by the same vendor. Career Cruising is a Wisconsin DPI-funded program available to all school districts in Wisconsin which helps students learn about potential careers as they work their way through high school. Inspire takes that effort further by connecting education and industry in the Madison Region and enriching the local Academic Career Planning process for students, parents and educators.
“Inspire Madison Region is a unique resource that allows Madison Metropolitan School District to bring real world experiences into the classroom by connecting teachers and students with local business, community and post-secondary partners,” said Kristin Long, Career Education Coordinator for Personalized Pathways at Madison Metropolitan School District. “As we continue to build capacity for experiential learning in our District we are thrilled to see the broad range of careers and businesses that are represented,” Long said. “Students love connecting with our partners online because they can explore careers from anywhere and get answers to their individual questions.”
The Inspire license was funded through a grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation which is working with Wisconsin’s Regional Leadership Council, which Jadin chairs, to extend the effort to other regions. “I would like to see the Inspire program expanded throughout the rest of Wisconsin because it would provide economies of scale on purchasing the license and would create student mentoring connections statewide,” said Jadin.
Gene Dalhoff, who, as MadREP’s VP of Talent and Education, is charged with managing the program, pointed out that, “We are on track to get all of our region’s school districts on board and, while 210 companies is a great start, we need to keep adding to that list in order to produce the best experience for our students. It doesn’t cost anything to be highlighted on our site and it can help the companies develop their future workforce.”
“Inspire provides a great platform for business to connect with educators and students in order to help build our future workforce,” said Bridgett Willey, Director of Allied Health Education and Career Pathways at UW Health. “Our organization has been able to fulfill nearly 20 requests for speakers, student interviews and other career events in the schools through the Inspire platform. In addition, our clinical workforce has answered nearly 50 questions from students from various schools throughout the state, who are exploring careers in health care.”
Inspire is another way MadREP is engaging its rural communities in its economic development efforts. It is essential that businesses are brought on board as districts are signed up, particularly in those rural areas like Horicon. Steve Johnson, Factory Manager at John Deere Horicon Works, points out that, “John Deere Horicon supports Inspire Madison Region because it provides students with access to information about the types of jobs in manufacturing, the actual requirements of the jobs and allows connections to mentors who can provide students “real life” information about those jobs. It also can provide students with better information on what manufacturing is today and dispel the negative myths. Manufacturing can provide great jobs for all skills levels and the better we can connect students to these options through Inspire, it becomes a win-win for students and manufacturing.”
– Reposted from WisBusiness.com