ZURICH – Phil Powell, executive director of the Indiana Business Research Center at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, is among a delegation of more than 100 business, government, nonprofit and education leaders who have traveled to Switzerland to study the country’s work-based learning system.
The delegation, which also includes IU President Pam Whitten and her peers at Butler University, the University of Indianapolis and Marian University, is learning more about Switzerland’s apprenticeship system and how its best practices may be applicable to Ascend Indiana’s Modern Apprenticeship Program.
They have traveled there though the Indy Chamber’s Leadership Exchange (LEX), an annual event described as “an exclusive immersion into the economic infrastructure of other major metropolitan areas.” The IBRC is a session sponsor and Powell is providing opening remarks for a panel discussion on Sept. 20, “Role of Intermediaries in the Dual Education System.”
“The focus is all about workforce. The objective is to learn how universities, businesses, and government came together to build regional apprenticeship systems in Switzerland,” said Powell, also an associate clinical professor of business economics.
Jason Kloth and Stephanie Bothun, president and vice president respectively of Ascend Indiana, co-wrote an article about the importance of apprenticeships today in Indiana. The organization works with all Indiana universities – including IU – to match graduates with jobs.
In 2020, Employ Indy and Ascend Indiana launched the Modern Youth Apprenticeship program, which has been successful thus far. It may provide a basis for future efforts.
95% of Swiss high school graduates enter the labor force with a post-secondary credential. A share of working age adults significantly higher than Indianapolis participates in the labor market. Income tax rates in Indiana and Switzerland are similar.
“Per capita real GDP in Indy only grew 1% between 2007 and 2021. Compare this to 16% in our peer cities. Real labor productivity only grew 3%. Indianapolis will enter an irreversible poverty trap without bold vision from business, government, and education leaders,” Powell said.
“We will return with ideas to positively disrupt the way we prepare Hoosiers for high wage, high fulfillment jobs,” he added. “The future of prosperity in our city of Indianapolis depends upon it.”
Previously, LEX delegations have traveled to cities across North America, including Minneapolis, Nashville, San Antonio, San Diego and Toronto, to learn how those cities have addressed needs pertaining to public transportation, homelessness and other issues.