"In Aurora we know that collaboration is the only way to get things done effectively and efficiently. I believe that the City is uniquely qualified to create a nationwide model in student workforce development." Mayor Tom Weisner, City of Aurora
"We need every child to succeed. Through Pathways to Prosperity, we have an opportunity to engage employers and align what students learn in the classroom to jobs available in today’s market." Representative Linda Chapa LaVia
"The long-term economic vitality of our region demands a qualified, skilled workforce. Our business community realizes the importance of the collaborating with our local school districts and government leaders to improve student-to-career readiness. With the launch of the pathways initiative, we are eager to capitalize on our region’s strengths to create pathways to success for all." Joseph Henning, President & CEO of the Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce.
"Aurora has all of the puzzle pieces in place to put together a world-class model capitalizing on collaboration." Amy Loyd, Pathways to Prosperity Network at Jobs for the Future
"Our goal is to have a talent pipeline made up of students in our state from which companies can choose so they can continue to compete globally." Jason Tyszko, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity
Aurora Regional Pathways to Prosperity Project
An integral part of the city's economic development strategy, the Aurora Regional Pathways to Prosperity Project, targets student employment success and career readiness skills--- two key elements in maintaining a qualified and skilled workforce.
The project's cornerstone is the Pathways to Prosperity Project at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. In 2011 the organization released a report, Pathways to Prosperity: Meeting the Challenge of Preparing Young Americans for the 21st Century, which challenged the excessive focus on the four-year college pathway. The report presented the need to create additional pathways that combine rigorous academics with strong technical education to equip the majority of young people with the skills and credentials to succeed in the country's increasingly challenging labor market.
With the assistance of a grant from the Dunham Fund, the Aurora area was able to engage the assistance of the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Jobs for the Future to help determine which industries in the Aurora area provide the most employment opportunities and also outline the Aurora region's assets and challenges. In partnership with Illinois Pathways - a State of Illinois initiative supporting learners in exploring their academic and career interests in STEM fields - local educational institutions, businesses and community organizations are mapping out a collaborative approach to creating pathways for employment success for Aurora-area students.
Those jobs within the STEM fields in the Aurora area are most abundant in the health care and manufacturing industries as well as in information technology (IT). The Aurora project will focus on combining rigorous academics with strong technical education to equip the majority of young people with the skills and credentials to succeed in these areas. Subsequent steps will include the aligning of curriculum with job requirements to improve student-to-career readiness in the community and informing students and parents of the Aurora area's employment pathways.
The research found a critical success factor currently in place in Aurora: A core group of educational, business and community leaders already undertaking the task of mapping out a collaborative approach to the project. Those assets include leadership provided by local educational institutions, the business community, government officials and generous financial support from the Dunham Fund.
Aurora is now working on the formation of an intermediary organization to set priorities and sequence initiatives in the IT, health care and manufacturing industry sectors under consideration.