The [April 2] article “Manufacturers prowling for skilled workers” highlighting the lack of trained workers for advanced manufacturing jobs underscores a critical need in Indiana—and throughout the nation. It’s an issue confronting Indiana employers that will have a devastating impact on our economic future if we don’t act now.
Work force experts project that six of 10 Hoosiers need a quality college degree or credential for Indiana to be economically competitive. Yet, even with a growing demand for higher education, only a third of the state’s population has completed education beyond high school. That ranks Indiana 40th in education attainment.
The current pace of college degree production is not adequate to reverse these disturbing trends. Fortunately, there are efforts under way to ensure more Hoosiers have the education and skills necessary to compete for good jobs, support a family and build a stronger state economy.
The Commission for Higher Education’s plan, “Reaching Higher, Achieving More,” outlines a set of bold strategies and clear metrics designed to dramatically increase the number of Hoosiers earning college credentials that have value in today’s job market.
Business involvement can take many forms, from partnering with colleges to develop relevant curriculum to advocating practices that increase productivity, quality, innovation and accountability.
We’ve seen promising collaboration between colleges and companies ranging from car manufacturers to biomedical research firms to tap the potential of Indiana’s future work force. This kind of collaboration must be accelerated, expanded and scaled across Indiana and the nation.
We may be behind the curve, but we are in a better position to succeed than ever before. Our state’s—and our nation’s—economic future depends on it.
Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education
president, Committee for Economic Development