Mt. Vernon Register-News

CNHI Special Projects

January 25, 2013

Expert: State lacks in getting students to jobs

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana has an abundance of vocational education opportunities but a poor record of keeping students in the programs and getting them trained in well-paying jobs that demand more technical know-how.

That was the message delivered Friday by an economic development expert to a group of 150 vocational education and workforce development officials from around the state.

“You have a lot of students who enter these programs ... but few of them who ever complete,” said Brian Bosworth, president of FutureWorks, a consulting company that has been studying Indiana’s “skills gap.”

Bosworth spoke at the Indiana Education and Workforce Innovation Summit, sponsored by the University of Indianapolis. Earlier in the day, Gov. Mike Pence told the same audience that Indiana needed to do better job aligning education to the needs of employers if it wanted to reduce the state’s 8.2 percent unemployment rate.

Pence is pushing a plan that would create regional councils around Indiana where businesses and educators would craft curriculum for vocational programs in high schools to better prepare students for local jobs, especially those in manufacturing.

“I think there are going to be opportunities for collaboration and resources far beyond traditional streams,” said Pence.

Pence also repeated his call to return vocational education “to every high school in Indiana.

But Bosworth, in his remarks, said the availability of vocational education isn’t the problem. It’s getting students into vocational programs that provide them with the technical skills needed to land a good-paying job, then keeping them in those programs once they get there.

Among the findings that Bosworth shared with his audience: About 100,000 of Indiana’s 330,000 high school students take a vocational education class every year. But only about 10,000 students graduate with both a high school diploma and a concentration — or six credit hours — in a vocational or technical field.  

And few high school students — 15 percent at most — that do take vocational education courses in manufacturing or pre-engineering go on to pursue post-secondary training in those fields.  In Indiana’s two-year colleges, only about 10 percent of students enrolled in a technical program of study complete their degree.

Pence, who’s been in office for less than two weeks, has made vocational education a priority for his administration.

He said the issue came to his attention on the campaign trail, when he heard from manufacturers that they were having a hard time filling positions that require specific job training, rather than a college degree.

The problem is significant: According to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, about 7,000 manufacturing jobs went unfilled in December.

Also speaking at the summit was Mark Gerstle, vice president and chief administrative officer at Cummins, Inc., a global manufacturer of engines which has its headquarters in Columbus, Ind. Gerstle said students are coming out of Indiana’s high schools and colleges ill-prepared to work in industries that require high-tech skills.    

He said 30 percent of Cummins’ employees in Indiana were born and educated in other countries. “We can’t find enough people in our own state to hire…” Gerstle said.  “It shows what a sad state of affairs we’re in.”

Indiana’s new superintendent of public instruction, Glenda Ritz, also spoke at the summit, saying she agreed that schools needed to help students focus on vocational and technical careers, but offered few details on how to do that.

Ritz, a Democrat elected in November, was welcomed by the Republican Pence, who said they shared “common ground” in their interest in vocational education.

Ritz, a schoolteacher by training, said students needed to have opportunities like she did when she took part in a cadet-teaching program while in high school.

“I knew that was what’s for me and headed on my path,” Ritz said. “All kids, all careers need to have that kind of chance to explore at the high school level, to get that relevance to their coursework and to know where they might be headed.”

Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com.

1
Text Only
CNHI Special Projects
  • Why do wolves howl?

    Of all the myths that dog the wolf, none is more widely accepted than the idea that wolves howl at the moon. Images of wolves with their heads upturned, singing at the night sky, are as unquestioned as a goldfish's three-second memory or a dog's color-blindness (both also myths).

    April 18, 2014

  • quake.jpg Pennsylvania won’t take action following Ohio ruling on quakes, fracking

    Pennsylvania officials plan no action despite new Ohio rules on drilling that affect a seismically active area near the state line.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • The case for separate beds

    The other night I slept on a twin bed in the guest room of the house I share with my husband and our two kids.
    It was the best night's sleep I've had in years.

    April 17, 2014

  • Raw oysters spike U.S. rise in bacterial infections, CDC reports

    Raw oysters, so good with hot sauce, increasingly can carry something even more unsettling to the stomach: A bacteria linked to vomiting, diarrhea and pain.

    April 17, 2014

  • Low blood-sugar levels make for grousing spouses

    Husbands and wives reported being most unhappy with their spouses when their blood-sugar levels were lowest, usually at night, according to research released this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Missing a meal, dieting or just being hungry may be the reason, researchers said.

    April 16, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 12.51.22 PM.png VIDEO: Toddler climbs into vending machine

    A child is safe after climbing into and getting stuck inside a claw crane machine at a Lincoln, Neb., bowling alley Monday.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • portraitoflotte.jpg VIDEO: From infant to teen in four minutes

    Dutch filmmaker Frans Hofmeester’s time lapse video of his daughter, Lotte — created by filming her every week from her birth until she turned 14 — has become a viral sensation.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Victimized by the 'marriage penalty'

    In a few short months, I'll pass the milestone that every little girl dreams of: the day she swears - before family and God, in sickness and in health, all in the name of love - that she's willing to pay a much higher tax rate.

    April 15, 2014

  • treadmill-very-fast.jpg Tax deduction for a gym membership?

    April marks another tax season when millions of Americans will deduct expenses related to home ownership, children and education from their annual tax bill. These deductions exist because of their perceived value to society; they encourage behaviors that keep the wheels of the economy turning. So why shouldn't the tax code be revised to reward preventive health?

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Google acquires drone maker Titan Aerospace to spread Internet

    Google is adding drones to its fleets of robots and driverless cars.
    The Internet search company said it acquired Titan Aerospace, the maker of high-altitude, solar-powered satellites that provides customer access to data services around the world. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

    April 14, 2014

Twitter Updates
Facebook
Stocks