“The problem isn’t too many graduates, it’s too few jobs.”
That’s one of the conclusions of a report funded by the Lilly Endowment, “Indiana’s Competitive Economic Advantage: The opportunity to win the global competition for college-educated talent.” The study, conducted by the Battelle Technology Partnership Practice, recently found that Indiana has a strong higher-education pipeline, but doesn’t have enough jobs to employ the graduates coming out of its four-year colleges and universities.
Commissioned by the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, a group of corporate executives and university presidents dedicated to promoting the region’s prosperity and growth, the study states that Indiana lags behind much of the nation when it comes to how well-educated its workforce is — which, in turn, affects how high employees’ salaries reach.
That’s despite Indiana being 12th in the nation in the rate of its ninth graders going on to complete a college-level program, according to the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems. The state also reaches slightly above the national average for students who graduate within six years of starting a four-year degree.
Yet, less than a quarter of Hoosiers 25 years or older had completed a bachelor’s degree or a more advanced degree in 2010, according to data from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.
It’s not as if students aren’t going to college at all. Logansport High School guidance registrar Debbye Piercy reported that 46 percent of the 242 students who received a diploma this past spring were going on to attend a four-year college.
Another 29 percent were planning to attend a two-year college, such as Ivy Tech Community College, and 4 percent planned to attend a vocational school.
But in Cass County, 16 percent of its population age 25 and older had completed at least a bachelor’s degree, according to the most recent INDWD statistics available. Statewide that rate reached 25 percent. The largest proportion of employed Cass County workers — 31 percent — have no more than a high school education.