Achieve Your Degree (and Save Money) With Indiana Chamber Discount

Many of the adults in Indiana with some or no postsecondary education are already working at companies or organizations that are desperate for a pipeline of talent to grow their businesses.

Those companies need to look no further than their own employee base with assistance from Ivy Tech Community College and its Achieve Your Degree program (plus a tuition discount courtesy of your Indiana Chamber of Commerce membership).

Employers interested in upskilling their existing workforce, attracting new employees with a tuition reimbursement benefit and are members of the Indiana Chamber can enroll in Achieve Your Degree and offer full-time employees a 5% discount on tuition costs, or take advantage of that savings if the company already pays employee tuition.

With Achieve Your Degree, employers can offer tuition reimbursement with minimal up-front costs as tuition can be deferred to the end of the semester. An Ivy Tech representative will also offer on-site academic advising and work with students on the financial aid application process.

Flexibility and customization are hallmarks of Achieve Your Degree. For example, to ensure students maintain their working schedules, they may take a combination of in-class and distance education. As the largest public postsecondary institution in Indiana, Ivy Tech has more than 40 locations throughout the state.

The Indiana Chamber expects the partnership with Ivy Tech to pay off for its member companies in several ways: skill upgrades, cost savings and building employee loyalty by offering the benefit.

Ivy Tech started the Achieve Your Degree program in 2016.

Member companies interested in learning more or signing up can find more information at www.indianachamber.com/achieve. Verify your Indiana Chamber membership is current and that your company is eligible for the 5% discount by calling Nick at (317) 264-6898.

Indiana Chamber, Ivy Tech Announce Exclusive Partnership to Aid Workforce Needs

Many Hoosiers looking for a jumpstart to begin or finish their postsecondary education now have a new opportunity through their employers. The Indiana Chamber of Commerce is partnering with Ivy Tech Community College in the Achieve Your Degree program to provide discounted tuition exclusively for Indiana Chamber member companies and their full-time employees.

A 5% discount will apply to a company’s existing or future tuition assistance program, as well as to employees who finance their own education. For convenience, payment is deferred and one invoice is sent at the end of each term that reflects tuition fees after any financial aid has been deducted.

The Indiana Chamber is the state’s largest business advocacy and information organization, representing thousands of businesses of all sizes across the state.

“There’s not a day that goes by that we don’t hear from our members about workforce gaps they are experiencing. We encourage them to take advantage of this program and promote it internally. It’s a good approach to upskilling the workforce and addressing their own company’s needs,” explains Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar. “And by investing in employees, companies build loyalty and that ultimately helps with retention efforts.”

While thousands of organizations across the state are active members of the Indiana Chamber, Brinegar expects this partnership to entice others, saying the investment to join the organization “will be more than offset by the thousands of dollars a business could save annually on tuition costs.”

Ivy Tech Community College, which has more than 40 locations throughout the state, is the largest public postsecondary institution in Indiana. Ivy Tech started the Achieve Your Degree program in 2016.

What can’t be stressed enough, says Ivy Tech Community College President Sue Ellspermann, is how customizable and convenient Achieve Your Degree is.

“Ivy Tech will come directly to your worksite and sit down with management and employees to run through the options and listen to what your individual needs are. We’ll connect employees with the specified courses they need to complete their certificate or degree and meet the job demands of the employer. We can also start at the very beginning and help design a tuition assistance policy if a company doesn’t have one.”

Employees can take a combination of online and on-campus coursework that fits their busy schedules.

Ivy Tech Community College provides support throughout the process, assigning a liaison to help coordinate the effort. Assistance with admissions and financial aid applications, plus student advising and tutoring, are all part of the service. Employers also receive marketing materials to help inform employees about the program.

Brinegar believes one key differentiator of Achieve Your Degree can’t be overstated.

“This is not a traditional tuition reimbursement plan and that’s huge. Large upfront costs have proven to be the big stumbling block in employees taking advantage of any continuing education programs their employers may offer.”

Cook Group, headquartered in Bloomington, experienced that firsthand and redesigned its own program so employees didn’t have to wait for reimbursement. Cook Group President Pete Yonkman reported to the Indiana Chamber last year that the company saw an 800% participation increase in its tuition support program, jumping from 50 to 450 employees.

It will take major strides like these to prepare for the jobs of tomorrow and get more people engaged in completing their education, Ellspermann offers.

“We know there are more than half a million people in this state that started college, but life got in the way of finishing it. Further, another million Hoosier workers never pursued college. We believe Achieve Your Degree and the partnership with the Indiana Chamber will entice many Hoosiers to get the certificate or degree that will provide them a brighter future and bolster the state’s workforce.”

Companies can learn more about this exclusive Achieve Your Degree partnership through the Indiana Chamber at www.indianachamber.com/achieve; Ivy Tech explains the entire program at www.ivytech.edu/achieveyourdegree.

Employer Survey: Skilled Workers Scarce; Few Take Advantage of Tuition Reimbursement

A new employer survey from the Indiana Chamber shows concerning trends in workforce shortages, tuition reimbursement and response to prescription opiate abuse.

“Too often employers can’t find the workers they need, and those currently employed aren’t taking advantage of tuition reimbursement that would put them in better positions,” says Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar.

More than 1,100 businesses from throughout the state took part in the Indiana Chamber Foundation’s 10th annual employer survey, sponsored by WGU Indiana and conducted in partnership with Indiana-based Walker.

Specifically, research shows that nearly half (47%) of employers left jobs unfilled in the past year due to under-qualified applicants. That extended a trend from the previous three years in which the answers to that same question were 39%, 43% and 45%, respectively.

Additionally, almost 80% (79%) percent cited filling their workforce as among their biggest challenges. That number is also on the rise from 72%, 74% and 76% in the previous three years.

Once again, more than half of employers (53%) expect to increase the size of their workforce in the next one to two years. But their challenges are even larger with 54% saying the supply of qualified applicants does not meet demand and 85% placing the filling of talent needs as among their critical challenges.

“In many cases, it’s not a lack of a four-year degree or higher educational achievement. Two-thirds require less than a bachelor’s degree for their unfilled jobs,” Brinegar explains. “This puts additional emphasis on the certificates, credentials and associate degrees in which Indiana, unfortunately, trails the majority of states.”

But it’s not always a lack of education or training that leads to the unfilled positions. In the view of employers, 45% of applicants are unwilling to accept the pay/compensation offered and 28% are not attracted to the community where the job is located.

In the training world, there appear to be some missed opportunities for employers and their workers. Only 40% of the respondents indicate that they partner with an educational institution to help meet their training needs.

For the employees, nearly half (48%) have access to tuition reimbursement programs but very few take advantage of those opportunities. From the employer perspective, 60% said employees have no desire or motivation to participate and 35% believe workers see no personal benefit in advancing their education.

“Part of the problem is employees not having the funds to cover the tuition payments upfront that will be reimbursed at some point by their employer. And that’s a common arrangement for these programs,” Brinegar offers.

“But we also know if employers pay for the tuition directly to the school – which is obviously easier for larger companies – more workers are likely to take part. We heard from one of our members who saw participation jump from about 50 employees to more than 400 when that change was made. So that is something the Indiana Chamber will be looking at this summer in our business-higher education committee to see what public policy recommendations may make sense.”

When it comes to prescription opiate misuse, less than half (47%) of the respondents said they drug tested employees for it in safety-sensitive positions. On a broader scale, 56% of employers said they tested any employee if they suspected misuse or abuse of prescription opiates. However, more than a third (34%) of employers indicated they did not know how to detect such misuse or abuse.

The survey results are available at www.indianachamber.com/education.

The annual employer survey complements the work the Indiana Chamber is doing with the Outstanding Talent driver in the Indiana Vision 2025 long-term economic development plan for the state.

Indiana Vision 2025 measures Indiana’s progress compared to other states on 36 goals in the four driver areas of Outstanding Talent, Attractive Business Climate, Superior Infrastructure, and Dynamic and Creative Culture. The latest Report Card showing how Indiana ranks was released earlier this month and is available at www.indianachamber.com/2025.