Many students will be entering the workforce in the coming months, while others will be furthering their education. Whatever university students choose to attend, there are plenty of great institutions in our area. Ivy Tech Community College-Evansville and Vincennes University are both accredited two-year colleges, while the University of Evansville and the University of Southern Indiana are both four-year universities. College may not be for everyone, but having a fulfilling high quality job is something that everyone strives for.
As a high school principal and a legislator, I am doing all I can to prepare students for their future. Students who are looking for employment are facing great prospects in Indiana. Over the past year, Indiana’s unemployment rate declined by two percent, which is third largest decrease in the nation. While many states are still recovering from the recession, our state’s economy continues to grow stronger. Despite this, we are still facing a skills and opportunity gap, which has been one of the top issues discussed during our legislative sessions.
Sixty-seven percent of manufacturing companies reported moderate to severe shortages of available qualified workers. In other words, jobs are there, but we don’t have the skilled workforce to fill these available positions. Most of the jobs fall within the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, known as STEM.
This past session, I supported legislation that will help create more opportunities for students and employers by fostering relationships through internships. House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1003 aims to address the skills gap in Indiana and improve the quality of the state’s workforce in three specific steps. First, it allows the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) to utilize the Training 2000 Fund to award grants to schools that choose to develop and implement partnerships with businesses. These partnerships would include internships and apprenticeships that will provide students with real-world experience in their field of study.
Second, this legislation allows the IEDC to award an Economic Development for a Growing Economy tax credit to businesses that hire students who have gone through this cooperative program between the business and the college. Finally, HEA 1003 repurposes the current Indiana Workforce Intelligence System to the Indiana Network of Knowledge in order to support identifying both current and future job market skill needs.
While addressing the EVSC Early College graduates, I thanked them for the wonderful memories over the years, and I wished them the very best in whatever path they choose. I mentioned that the American Dream means different things to different people, but it is alive and well and with hard work and dedication, anyone can achieve it.