New workforce readiness plans through Ivy Tech shows promise

Ivy Tech Community College, which has an important role in providing trained candidates to meet the workforce needs of Indiana employers, has a big job ahead.

Indiana is far behind the pack in the percent of adults holding post-secondary credentials. The most recent statistics from 2015 show 41.1 percent of Indiana adults with this level of education, compared to 45.8 percent nationwide.

Bartholomew County is only slightly better than Indiana as a whole, one percentage point higher. The national Lumina Foundation goal is 60 percent.

Sue Ellspermann, the first-year president of the Ivy Tech state system, doesn’t let the size of Indiana’s challenge faze her, though. However, getting to the 60 percent goal — which is important to state employers who are having challenges getting enough trained candidates to hire — is going to mean adding 1 million more adult degree and credential holders in the next eight years.

With such a challenge, a status-quo approach won’t cut it, and Ellspermann is shaking up the system’s structure to ramp up the output.

Changing the leadership structure so that a chancellor is responsible for just one campus instead of several allows that person to be more focused on the needs of employers in that community and have more flexibility in how they meet those needs. That’s a sound move.

Providing shorter term credentials, such as CDL truck driving, is another way to meet employers needs and get students trained for in-demand careers.

Using data that can track students and identify who is at risk for failure just a couple weeks into the semester is a good step and heartening to hear, because dropouts are what neither Ivy Tech nor employers want.

And, educating students about career paths to jobs that are in demand but in short supply — often because students don’t know about them — is another smart move.

Indiana faces serious workforce challenges in the coming years and decades, and serious approaches are needed to provide a larger and more skilled workforce.

Ellspermann is to be commended for the steps she has taken just a year into the job. They are a reflection of Ivy Tech’s desire to continue to lead workforce readiness efforts for the state — something which employers and communities certainly appreciate.

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