The Don Wood Foundation, a private foundation dedicated to the advancement of manufacturing, entrepreneurship, sales, and leadership-related education in the region, and Thomas P. Miller & Associates (TPMA), today announced a partnership to complete a comprehensive research study on the career and technical education (CTE) ecosystem in Dekalb, LaGrange, Noble, and Steuben counties. The results of the study will help inform the Don Wood Foundation’s strategy for related funding allocation.


Career and technical education connects employer needs with hands-on and relevant training in skilled trades, applied sciences, and modern technologies. Courses provide students with the skills and experience to excel in careers in agriculture, building and construction, culinary arts, education and child development, engineering and architecture, fashion and interior design, healthcare, hospitality, information technologies, manufacturing, marketing, medical technology, product development, robotics, and others. Today, manufacturing is the dominant industry in Dekalb, LaGrange, Noble, and Steuben counties generating many jobs that remain unfilled due to a lack of skilled workers.


“We know gaps exist between students and workforce opportunities. We need to better understand how to appropriately fill the gap with career and technical education,” said Patrick Buesching, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Don Wood Foundation. “The study results will uncover how we can best support the advancement of education and programming, in alignment with regional efforts, to help students understand the rewarding, high-wage, high-skill career opportunities that exist and create a path to these experiences in northeast Indiana.”


The study will build upon existing information to provide a clear picture of regional activities in place and understand challenges and opportunities. TPMA will initiate the study this month with a discovery phase, including a review of current data, plans, and resources. Input from key stakeholders is critical to the study’s success and will be solicited. TPMA anticipates a diverse set of stakeholders will be engaged during this process. Following the completion of the report in Q3 2023, the Don Wood Foundation will share the results to help further facilitate efforts that support the advancement of career education and training in the region.


About the Don Wood Foundation

The Don Wood Foundation is a private foundation, established in 2018 by Don Wood, founder of 80/20, Inc., that serves and supports innovators, leaders, collaborators, and skilled workers with the potential to create and sustain opportunities in manufacturing. The Foundation partners with non-profits and educational institutions to provide sustained investment that supports the development of a diverse workforce through exposure, education, and training to create strong communities rooted in the advancement of manufacturing.