Colleges and Universities and State Government and Education & Workforce Development and Government & Economic Development and Government

State aims to raise post-secondary education attainment

July 9, 2014

Gov. Mike Pence's administration said it wants 60 percent of Indiana’s workforce to have post-secondary education skills or credentials by 2025, Indiana Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann said Tuesday.

Ellspermann announced that goal while kicking off the Workforce Development and Education Conference at the Ivy Tech Career and Culinary Center in Indianapolis.

According to a new report by the Indiana Career Council, only 34 percent of Indiana’s workers have the equivalent of a two-year post-secondary degree or more. In a decade, the report says, more than 60 percent of jobs in Indiana will require some form of postsecondary education, which will leave the state with a shortage of 675,000 qualified workers unless progress in educational attainment is is made.

Ellspermann listed five strategies to achieve the goal:

— Work with the General Assembly to form a graduation grant to provide financial incentives to students attending post-secondary institutions.

— Encourage Hoosiers with some college experience to return to school and finish their degrees;

— Provide high school students with the opportunity to earn transferrable post-secondary credits and workforce credentials;

— Ensure two-year colleges implement the best practices for on-time completion rates;

— Increase the usage of prior learning assessments and competency-based education models for adult students.

“Hoosiers are smart people with a lot of learning,” Ellspermann said. “We need to increase the usage of that prior learning so we can give Hoosiers credit for what they already know.”

Ellspermann reiterated Pence's ongoing message that “job creation is Job One.” She said Indiana’s unemployment rate—one of the lowest in the Midwest and under the national average—is proof that the administration’s road map is working.

“The roadmap really becomes a reality,” Ellspermann said, “and a promise made becomes a promise kept.”

A panel of three national experts for workforce development weighed in with different theories to build the workforce in Indiana.

“Most people understand they have to further their skills and competency attainment to become upwardly mobile,” said Mason Bishop, principal at WorkED Consulting. Bishop is a national expert on employment and post-secondary education policy.

Josh Pryor, another panelist, said post-secondary education needs to focus on skills transferable to the workforce to be successful.

“Employers tell us that the skills and abilities they need are not coming out of the college population,” said Pryor, a senior research scientist at Gallup. He said college students need “more internships that actively connect with what the students are learning in the classroom and what they are going to need when they get into an employer situation.”

Pryor said retention should be another focus to build the workforce in Indiana. He said if students leave the state for education, it is “not as likely” they will return to Indiana after graduation.

“If you want your best and your brightest to stay in Indiana,” Pryor said, “use education in Indiana.”

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