IBJOpinion

MERISOTIS: Boosting education boosts your company

Jamie Merisotis
August 14, 2010
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Jamie MerisotisEarlier this year, I had the opportunity to deliver the commencement address at Miami Dade College, the nation’s largest institution of higher education.

It was a joyous celebration. Graduates paraded through the streets of Little Havana on their way to commencement. To kick off the formal ceremony, a list of nations was read—28 countries had graduates in the ceremony. When the United States was read, a prolonged ovation erupted.

We need more moments like that—not merely because they are inspiring, but because the graduates celebrated in these moments are crucial to the continued prosperity and security of our nation.

For most of the almost three years I’ve served as Lumina Foundation for Education’s president, we have pursued one national goal: By the year 2025, we want 60 percent of the American population to hold high-quality college degrees or credentials.

Today, only around 40 percent of working-age Americans have at least a two-year degree. In Indiana, the situation is even worse, with only 33 percent of the state’s 3.4 million working-age adults (25-64 years old) holding at least a two-year degree, according to 2008 census data. The numbers are slightly better for young adults, with 36 percent of Indiana’s 25- to 34-year-olds holding degrees. Still, the overall percentage is well below 60-percent degree attainment.

Why should you, as a central Indiana business leader, share this passion for reaching 60-percent degree attainment?

Noted labor economist Tony Carnevale of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce answers those questions clearly. He estimates that, by 2018, 63 percent of all jobs in this country will require some form of postsecondary education or training. That’s a huge increase since the mid-’70s, when less than 30 percent of jobs required anything beyond a high school education. Where will these jobs go if we are unprepared to fill them? Clearly, employers will look elsewhere, to other states and other countries, for the human capital they need to succeed.

In late June, a real-life example put this issue into stark perspective. Columbus-based Cummins Engine Co. chose to locate a customer-care center (and 200 jobs) not here in Indiana, but in Nashville, Tenn. Cummins has made an impressive commitment to Indiana overall. But when asked whether tax incentives or other inducements might have persuaded Cummins to choose an Indiana site, a company spokesman made a more important point. He said: “We are looking much more for the quality of the work force.”

It’s not simply that higher education provides employees with skills for the jobs that employers create. It’s also the case that higher education literally creates jobs. Postsecondary degree attainment has been a major factor in driving economic productivity gains over the last 40 years. Economists concur that much of the productivity gains over that period can be attributed to two key factors: technology, which changed the way we work and the nature of work itself, and educational attainment.

People who are educated support innovation and, in general, provide the capacity for job growth to happen. The most dramatic example in recent memory is the way in which the excess supply of college-educated baby boomers contributed to the technology boom of the late ’80s and ’90s.

Our postsecondary system is becoming—and must become—the engine for developing our nation’s human capital. And business leaders must do all they can to help that engine run smoothly. As a business and community leader, you can help by supporting workplace practices that benefit us all: tuition-reimbursement programs, flex time for employee/students, and incentives and recognition for training and education. You can also support public policies that support increasing degree attainment and enhance the overall productivity of our state’s colleges and universities.

By embracing the 60-percent goal, you’ll not only benefit your employees individually, you also will improve performance at your own company. What’s more, you’ll be part of an effort that can have a huge payoff for Indiana, and for the nation as a whole.•

__________

Merisotis is CEO of the Lumina Foundation for Education.

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Angela IS the best RD

  2. We are a nation of speed. All of our younger lives are filled with deadlines, quotas and bottom lines. We start to ease out of the pressured rat-race when we finally see "retirement." The most enjoyable travel on the planet is passenger rail service. Indy to Chicago does not beat Megabus or Southwest Airlines in speed. Passenger rail however has the best seating, mammoth legroon, seat backs that recline to more than 45 degrees and employers that really want you to return as a customer. Indiana municipalities need to maintain subsidies to support this transportation mode. Losing it is loss for all of us.

  3. Good day! I just want to testify how i got my loan from Mr. Eric Lefkofsky after i applied several times from various loan lenders who claimed to also testify right in this forum,i thought the testimonies where real and i applied but they never gave me loan. I was in need of an urgent loan to start a business and i applied from various loan lenders who promised to help but they never gave me the loan. Until a friend of mine introduce me to this popular Mr. Eric Lefkofsky who promised to help me and indeed he did as he promised without any form of delay. I never thought there are still reliable loan lenders until i met Mr. Eric lefkofsky who indeed helped me with the loan and changed my belief. I promised to share this testimony after I got my loan. I don't know if you are in any way in need of a genuine and urgent loan,free feel to contact Mr. Eric Lefkofsky via their email{grouponfunding@hotmail.com}

  4. Its a THUG issue. Bleecker Street and NYX are thug bars. They attract thugs of all races. Places that attract thugs need to be kicked out of Broad Ripple. Ain't nobody got time for that!

  5. Hello everyone, My name is Marian Gareth, I am from the Texas, United State, am here to testify of how i got my loan from Mr Andre Frank {frankloancompany@yahoo.com} after i applied Two times from various loan lenders who claimed to be lenders right in this forum,i thought their lending where real and i applied but they never gave me loan. I was in need of an urgent loan to start a business and i applied from various loan lenders who promised to help but they never gave me the loan.Until a friend of mine introduce me to Mr Andre Frank the C.E.O of Andre Frank Loan Company who promised to help me with a loan of my desire and he really did as he promised without any form of delay, I never thought there are still reliable loan lenders until i met Mr Andre Frank, who really help me with my loan and changed my lief for better. I don't know if you are in need of an urgent loan, free feel to contact Mr Andre Frank on his email{ Frankloancompany@yahoo.com} for help

ADVERTISEMENT