STEM, Inspire Sheboygan County do right work

TOO OFTEN IN THE past there has been a great disconnect between schools and industry, to the detriment of both and, even more, of students.

Fortunately, the tide continues to turn against that fatal disconnect and the trend is growing stronger toward making education work not only for the future of students but also of the community and industry as well.

Two of the most recent examples were highlighted on the pages of The Review last week.

In the first, eighth-grade students from every school in the county – including Riverview Middle School in Plymouth – are touring the Kohler Co. to learn about the variety of career fields available there and the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) across many different fields and jobs.

There is a certain amount of self-interest in the program for the Kohler Co., which recognizes that many of its baby-boomers employees will be retiring over the next several decades and will have to be replaced with new employees. The company is hoping that many of those will be the eighth-graders taking part in the Project STEM tours now.

But it is much more than that, as the effort to interest eighth-graders in pursuing work in a wide variety of STEM-related fields has a positive effect for all of us in Sheboygan County, Wisconsin and the United States.

The key to maintaining a vibrant, growing economy is to have a trained workforce in sufficient numbers to meet present and future needs in all areas. Efforts like the Kohler Co. Project STEM tours are an early, and effective, means of helping to build and ensure that necessary workforce, whether it’s at the Kohler Co. or another local industry.

Also helping the effort to forge a future workforce is the recently-launched Inspire Sheboygan County, a collaboration of employers, educators, parents and students started by Peter Giese of Sheboygan Falls.

The goal of Inspire Sheboygan County is to bring students in all grades together with career coaches at local industries and businesses in career fields the students may be interested in pursuing.

Giese, a member of the Sheboygan Falls School Board, has enlisted local educators and business leaders in his effort to provide the connections that will guide and steer students into the career fields where they will be needed in the future and where they can succeed and prosper.

The Kohler Co. is one of the local industries that has helped to launch Inspire Sheboygan County and it is part of their Project STEM outreach to county eighth-graders.

They have plenty of company in the Inspire Sheboygan County effort, including Sargento Foods and Masters Gallery Foods right here in Plymouth.

These efforts join many others – such as the Plymouth School District’s ongoing collaboration with Lakeshore Technical College on state-of-the-art technology education right here in Plymouth – that show educators and industry working together as they should to answer the need and ensure that there will not be a skills and workforce gap in our future.

At issue:
Growing a future workforce
Bottom line:
Educators, industry work together

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