Ivy Tech’s Corporate College picks up steam

Ivy Tech Community College's 3-year-old Corporate College subsidiary is picking up steam as it offers work-related training and professional development classes to companies around the state.

The Indianapolis-based institution has served 750 companies this year through the unit, up from 650 companies the previous year.

Its clients include such employers as Cook Group Inc., Cummins Inc., Keystone Construction, Allison Transmission Inc. and the Indiana Department of Transportation. It also provides training to McDonald’s franchises around the country.

“There’s not more demand. I just think we’re getting more penetration than before,” said Jeff Terp, Ivy Tech’s chief operating officer.

Terp said the Corporate College started slowly in 2011 but picked up momentum at the end of last year, after Ivy Tech appointed a single sales director for the entire state.

All told, the Corporate College unit is on pace to bring in $13.5 million this year, after bringing in $12.2 million in 2013. Terp thinks Ivy Tech can more than double that amount in the next five years, and possibly triple the number of companies Ivy Tech serves.

The revenue from the Corporate College is a drop in the bucket in Ivy Tech’s total annual budget of about $660 million.

“Revenue-wise, it’s relatively insignificant, but mission-wise, it’s vital,” Terp said.

Indeed, state leaders are counting on Ivy Tech to provide new skills to tens of thousands of additional Hoosiers each year in order to help the state keep the education levels of its work force at levels that are attractive to employers.

Currently, only 34 percent of working-age Hoosiers have postsecondary credentials, which lags the national average of 39 percent, according to statistics published by the Indianapolis-based Lumina Foundation for Education.

And that's woefully behind the needs of employers. In Indiana, 54 percent of all jobs today require some postsecondary credential, according to an analysis by the Georgetown Center for Education and the Workforce. That percentage will only rise over the next decade.

The biggest mismatch is in so-called middle-skill jobs, especially those in which science, technology, engineering or math play a role—health care workers, operators of robotic machines in factories, IT technicians, etc.

The growth in the Corporate College comes at a time Ivy Tech is asking the state for $83 million in additional funding to expand its programs and student services to produce more graduates. Ivy Tech already receives about $250 million a year from state government.

In fact, Ivy Tech has structured its Corporate College program so all training it does can be transferred for credit toward an Ivy Tech associate’s degree or professional certificate.

Allison Transmission had used Ivy Tech for years to teach basic math and English skills to its unionized hourly workers. After Ivy Tech launched its Corporate College in 2011, Allison asked Ivy Tech and other corporate training groups to bid on a conflict resolution training course for its production supervisors.

William Turner, Allison’s director of education and development, said he picked Ivy Tech for two reasons: cost and customization.

“Ivy Tech is cost-effective,” Turner said. “and they presented something that was more closely related to what we were asking for than the other vendors did.”

Since 2011, Allison has asked Ivy Tech to expand its supervisors’ course to include other topics, such as general leadership, communication, coaching, problem solving and discipline.

“The benefit is, the better you can work with or handle your people, we believe the better your department will run,” Turner said. “There are going to be conflicts. You’ve got to be able to sort those out efficiently.”

Allison, which employs 2,500 people, now has all of its supervisors go through an Ivy Tech course. Many of its hourly workers also go through courses taught by one of Allison’s 11 in-house trainers, which focus on how to use its machines, effective work habits or leadership for its hourly team leaders.

Supervisory skills, as well as communication and team building, are some of Ivy Tech’s most popular courses. Other subjects that it often teaches include Microsoft Office software, computer-controlled machining, welding, Six Sigma, health information technology, commercial driving, insurance and workplace Spanish.

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