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Ellspermann: Address Skills Gap With More 2-Year Degrees

State of Indiana

Indiana’s Lieutenant Governor says the state needs to rely more heavily on two-year degree programs and institutions to close the postsecondary skills gap.

Indiana state officials are working on a goal – by the year 2025, they want 60 percent of Hoosiers to have postsecondary training and skills – some sort of education after high school. Currently, two of every three Hoosiers have no college degree of any kind.  And one of every six Hoosiers has no high school diploma.  Lieutenant Governor Sue Ellspermann says that puts Indiana in the bottom of the pack nationally for both degree attainment and per capita income.

“Shame on us is when we have jobs here and we’ve not developed the talent to fill those jobs,” says Ellspermann.

Speaking to the Madison County Chamber of Commerce, Ellspermann says with the cost of postsecondary education continuing to rise, the state is setting its sights on two-year degree and certificate programs to give those new skills.

“A lot of the degrees we need – about two-thirds of them – are in two years or credentials," says Ellspermann.  "So, they’re not all higher ed.  We tend to think of our research ones – IU and Purdue and the systems around that and the four-year institutions – but much of the need is actually in those two-year degrees.”

Governor Mike Pence’s administration recently announced that state agencies and universities will have to give back 2 percent of their state-allotted budgets.  In November 2013, these same institutions gave back up to 4-and-a-half percent of their state budgets.  Budget committee chairman Republican Senator Luke Kenley of Noblesville has said that big cuts to education budgets could see universities asking for more money from students.  Ellspermann counters that’s not always the case.

“We’re going to continue to encourage our higher ed institutions – like Purdue has done – in holding the reins in additional tuition increases," says Ellspermann.  "We do expect higher ed to have the efficiencies to work closely with figuring out how to use their resources at the highest level.”

The Indiana Career Council says 65 percent of the jobs created this decade in Indiana require skills that can only be learned in postsecondary education.