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Even when the US economy is humming along, it contains a strange paradox. Employers have a hard time finding workers, yet simultaneously many workers have a hard time finding appropriate employment.  WBL helps learners enter and succeed in their first or next career, yet it remains a tiny percentage of our student experience.  We’re proud to feature the most dynamic and sought-after speakers who are true Industry Thought Leaders at the forefront of career-connected learning. 

It is time to solve our workforce paradox once and for all.

Register your institution today.

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CEO, The Center for Work Ethic Development

Building Foundational Skills in a Post-Pandemic World

The COVID pandemic has forever changed the workplace as we know it. Millions of jobs are being lost as others have been radically transformed. While technical skills are still important, the biggest concern employers have are the diminishing soft skills of the emerging workforce. 


Nearly 9 out of 10 hiring managers in the U.S. report that the lack of these soft skills are THE most important factor in their hiring, and yet less than 20% of today’s employees demonstrate these crucial work ethic behaviors on a consistent basis.  As we prepare our students for work-based learning opportunities, these are the skills they need to develop before they leave our classrooms. The good news is that there is a viable solution to the growing work ethic gap that can improve the employment outcomes for our students.

In this workshop Josh Davies, the CEO of The Center for Work Ethic Development, will provide 5 key strategies for developing the essential work ethic skills that employers demand. These proven strategies are already being used by leading schools and organizations to improve performance, retention, and job satisfaction of their graduates. Discover how you can build work ethic and set your students up for success as we transition to a post-pandemic world.

Chief Partnership Officer and Global Head, Learn-Work Innovation Kaplan

The Merger of Learning and Work

The most effective educational pedagogy involves project-based learning, hands-on application, teamwork, and opportunities to connect learning to work such as internships, co-ops, or apprenticeships. And the demands of the modern workplace require rapid and constantly learning and skilling - whether learning to use new collaboration software tools, data analysis tools, or more involved, formal training, 'learning' is becoming a critical aspect of work success. We are rapidly headed toward a world where will see a merger of learning and work - where you may not be able to tell the difference between a 'school' and a 'workplace.' Let's imagine what this world will look like! 

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Work-Based Learning Consultant
at Iowa Department of Education

Designing a Sustainable Work-Based Learning System

Work-based learning generates valuable connections for students to make informed decisions about courses, programs, and careers. As work-based learning expands with your educational institution, developing a sustainable system to support quality work-based learning is increasingly important. Thoughtful planning leads to valuable student learning, stronger connections to your community and a network of supported educators and instructors. Implement the three step approach to designing a sustainable work-based learning system to increase quality experiences for all students at your educational institution.

Apprenticeship Evangelist

The Future of Learning is Work: The Promise of Apprenticeships

There is a belief out there, that education has to prepare young people for a job – or even the world of work itself.  And though educators, at great expense, try to design work-like environments in their schools, employers still lament that education falls short of their needs.  This is, at least in part, because the faster an economy changes, the harder it is to predict what skills individuals will need in a future workplace.  Even the best-designed career academy is outdated very quickly. 


Which leads us to this great paradox: At a time when many young people are looking for work - employers say they simply can’t find the talent they need.  We all wonder what has gone wrong.  


What if our premise had been wrong all along? What if it is not education’s job to teach work?

What if only work can teach work? And what if we had a way to solve the talent paradox and the skills gap all at once – and even make a profit while doing it? In this session, we get reacquainted with the timeless method of connecting work and learning: the apprenticeship, which by its very nature eliminates the need to predict the future of work.

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Future of Education & Workforce Strategist

Opportunity On-ramps: Targeted Education for the Jobs of the Future

Tech is advancing; jobs are morphing, and job tenure is shorter; retirement is delayed or gone entirely; and education has to be continuous. Education and workforce strategist Dr. Michelle R. Weise talks about the infrastructure we need to build for a future filled with 20, 30, or more job changes. Part of that involves building more on-ramps to better economic opportunities, which are not always going to mirror the educational experiences we recognize today. During this session, Dr. Weise will share an array of new approaches to skills building for the jobs of today and tomorrow. 


The following speakers join the Catapult Mission with exclusive Keynotes. 

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TV host, writer, narrator,
producer, actor and spokesman

Lessons from the Dirt

Interview format - host Dr. Kevin J Fleming

Mike Rowe is a writer, narrator, producer, recording artist, Emmy Award-winning TV Host, New York Times bestselling author, and the CEO of the mikeroweWORKS Foundation. As the creator and host of the iconic TV series Dirty Jobs, Mike is best known as “the dirtiest man on TV.” In his role as a perpetual apprentice, Mike has highlighted hundreds of workers in dozens of essential industries. His foundation has awarded over six million dollars in work ethic scholarships to nearly 1,500 men and women, and his commitment to reinvigorate the skilled trades is unrivaled.


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Interview & Q&A

Chief Education Strategy Officer, Handshake

Leading Change and Creating Buy-In

Good ideas don't matter if you can't convince those around you to follow. As you accumulate inspiration from the speakers before, don't forget to devise a strategy for how you'll implement these new ideas. Your success and your students' success relies on your ability to effectively lead change. Come learn 5 principles for creating the necessary buy-in across your campus or organization. Using behavioral psychology as a foundation, Christine will leave you with memorable stories and concrete techniques to use with your team, your colleagues, and even your children!

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