Study Says India the Leader in Workforce Development

A new study, titled How the Disciple Became the Guru, was recently released by the Kauffman Foundation. I’ll let the experts from Duke and Harvard, who authored the report, explain:

In the ’90s, India’s Information Technology (IT) industry learned to compensate for the country’s weak infrastructure and developed competencies that helped it become a top global player. Now several industries, including IT, have learned to overcome another major deficiency: India’s education system. They have adapted and perfected western practices in workforce training and development, and now take workers with poor education and weak technical skills and turn them into highly productive technical specialists and managers able to compete on the world stage.
Still not sure this applies to Indiana? Try this on for size from a project released earlier this year by the Indiana Chamber: Indiana’s Adult Education and Workforce Skills Performance Report. The National Center for Higher Education Management Systems did the research and offered the following:
Even if Indiana were to become the best-performing state on measures of high school completion, college participation and graduation of traditional-age students, it would still fall short of reaching the level of educational attainment needed to be globally competitive. It must also rely on improved success in raising the education levels of adults age 25 and older. Indiana currently ranks 34th in the U.S. in the percentage of non-traditional-age adults participating in postsecondary education.
Unless Indiana can do a better job preparing its workforce, its ability to attract and maintain knowledge-based jobs may well be in jeopardy. In addition, only a highly trained workforce will possess the necessary ingredients to grow a more vibrant economy from within the state – e.g., entrepreneurship, leadership and civic engagement.
The professionals have spoken. What they are saying requires the attention of — quite simply — everyone. The Chamber’s Letters to Our Leaders will offer a starting point for funding Indiana’s workforce development needs in an August 5 release.

Education Numbers You Need to Know

Let’s get right to it:

  • After years of working toward an accurate graduation rate (legislation resulted, in part, from this 2006 report), nearly all will agree that more than a quarter of Indiana’s students are leaving high school without a diploma. It’s not our state’s problem alone, but hopefully most will concede that these young people and our state suffer the long-term consequences of this fact
  • Approximately a million working Hoosiers lack the skills needed to compete in today’s economy. That’s part of the focus of an upcoming Letters to Our Leaders’ missive on the workforce, but it also belongs in this discussion
  • No public college or university in the state graduates as many as half its students within four years — and the statistics don’t improve dramatically for some given a six-year period. We’ve got to do better

A more coordinated K-12, higher education and workforce development system is called for in the Chamber’s latest letter to the general public and the candidates for governor. Greater administrative efficiency, adjustments in teacher compensation and qualifications, and more are included. Read the letter; view the one-minute video commentary below; share your thoughts in this space.


Next Up on Letters’ Agenda: Education

Tuesdays is Letters to Our Leaders day, and this week is no exception. You will have to come back tomorrow for this week’s release and the details, but when the topic is education you can be sure there will be plenty to say.

In fact, an early draft of this letter was critiqued by several for having everything in it but the proverbial kitchen sink. Not a good sign if all those contributing to the process came up with such a long list of improvements needed in our education input and outcomes.

There are positives to Indiana’s education efforts at all levels and many good people working for improvement. Like challenges in several other areas, it’s the system that is slowing the dramatic progress needed.

In the closest we’ll get to a sneak preview, look for these words and more — dropouts, parental options, cooperation, accountability, and teacher compensation and qualifications.

I’m confident education will be high on the next governor’s agenda. Tuesday’s letter from the Indiana Chamber board of directors will make an excellent starting point.


Letters to Our Leaders: Don’t Run Out of Water, Power

Talk about a good news, bad news scenario. That’s the situation with the second of the Chamber’s Letters to Our Leaders — the relationship between economic development and issues regarding energy and the environment.

The history: Indiana’s low-cost, reliable energy supplies have been a major benefit in attracting business investment. Whether at work or at home, we simply expect the water to flow when we turn on the tap and the electricity to come on when we flip the switch.

The future: as our state continues to grow (which we all want and need), the pressure on those supplies is increased. Are the resources going to be in short supply tomorrow, next month or next year? Probably not. The bad news terminology is probably an exaggeration; it’s more of a warning that we better have a long-term plan in place to take full advantage of future opportunities.

Mixing new energy resources with clean coal technology, conservation and more are part of the mix. Our message: Let’s start that planning now, so we don’t pay (in the form of shortages and usage limitations) later.

Read the letter; view the one-minute video summary below. Share your opinions.


Economic Rankings on the Way Up

There’s no questioning that the creation of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) has provided a major lift to Indiana’s business attraction and expansion efforts. Now the public-private organization is able to utilize some extra talking points with others taking notice of the state’s improved business climate and performance.

News of the CNBC survey (Indiana making the largest improvement nationwide from 26th to 13th overall with top 10 rankings in business friendliness, transportation and cost of doing business) traveled fast last week. Low business costs (especially compared to Midwest neighbors) were also cited in Forbes and Milken Institute reports. The IEDC has more in its Why Indiana section.
The state, and all those who made it possible, deserves credit for the improved performance. Fortunately, we know no one is going to be satisfied until we’re topping the various polls, lists and surveys. Indiana improved in eight of 10 categories in the CNBC tally, but moving from 48th to 37th in economy (I’d place us a little higher than that seeing the struggles elsewhere) certainly leaves room for more.
Other states, of course, aren’t standing still. We’ve got to continue to meet the education and workforce challenges, among others, to keep up and maintain the progress. That’s the impetus behind the Chamber’s Letters to Our Leaders and continuing to work with all involved for the benefit of our state’s employers and their employees.

Government Inefficiency: Wall Remains in Place

Two excerpts of Wednesday stories that taken together simply leave your head shaking.

First, from an Indiana Chamber release the day after its Letters to Our Leaders project debuted with an initial focus on local government efficiency:

Last winter, the first responders on the scene of a van in a Hamilton County retention pond weren’t a critically needed dive team. Instead, it reportedly took three 911 calls for that emergency crew to arrive. Tragically, four people lost their lives when public safety improvements might have made all the difference.

The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette was one of many media outlets covering the campaign to place a focus on important public policy issues. A separate story in the same newspaper about opposition to a plan to merge city, county and the nearby New Haven emergency call centers included the following:

The issue of merged 911 centers has been an ongoing discussion for years between Fort Wayne and Allen County, as the two call centers are housed in the same room of the City-County Building basement separated by a glass wall. Councilman Tim Pape, D-5th, said the issue has been the most frustrating topic for him. … He said even if there were no cost savings, having a unified dispatch center makes sense because it improves safety.

The Chamber’s local government efficiency letter and below is the video; the story from Fort Wayne.


We’ve Got to STOP Governing Like This

The title of this post was the subtitle of the December 2007 report from the Indiana Commission on Local Government Reform. Seven people (led by co-chairs Joe Kernan and Randy Shepard) took six months to listen to Indiana residents, pour over past studies and reports, and determine that the structure of local government in Indiana is a mess.

While they did issue 27 recommendations, few in power were admittedly ready to act. After all, the top three issues in the 2008 General Assembly were property taxes, property taxes and property taxes. One of the results of property tax reform is less money for local government operations. Now, maybe even those entrenched in the current system will realize we can’t continue to conduct business as usual in a system that was set up in the 1850s.

Indiana has more than 3,200 local units of government and nearly 11,000 local elected officials. Over 400,000 people don’t have access to public library services. Public safety is at risk due to ineffective communications between safety agencies. An Evansville Business magazine article recalled a prospective downtown business owner in that city having to attend 27 meetings in 15 days in the attempt to get his company off the ground. That’s ridiculous.

It’s not the people within the system who are at fault; it’s the structure that prevents them from operating most effectively and efficiently.

Read the Indiana Chamber letter. View the one-minute video summary. Review the commission report. Let us know what you think.

The People Speak Through ‘Letters to Our Leaders’

If you’re going to borrow an idea or a title from someone, six-term Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar is not a bad person to emulate. Lugar’s 1988 "Letters to the Next President" was a book on U.S. foreign policy and his well-honed suggestions for future actions in various parts of the world. (A more recent entry from former Okahoma governor and U.S. senator David Boren, now the president of the University of Oklahoma, was titled "A Letter to America.")

The Indiana Chamber’s focus is our state. While the letters on key public policy issues are being delivered directly to the candidates for governor, they’re also intended for all those involved in the lawmaking and regulatory process. Thus, Letters to Our Leaders is the title.

Several of our state’s leading newspapers, including the Indianapolis Star and the South Bend Tribune, have this morning published overviews of the campaign. Additionally, you can watch the video of Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar discussing the reasons for releasing the letters. The effort officially kicks off this afternoon with five press conferences around the state. The letters, press releases and short videos on each policy area will be available online at 1:30 p.m. today, and this site seeks your input on the issues important to our state’s economic future. 

Who came up with the topics and the suggestions for these letters? You did, at least indirectly. The Chamber’s Economic Development Committee led the project, with input from the executive committee and board of directors. It was leaders of companies big and small, located throughout the state. The more than 4,800 Chamber member companies employ 800,000 Hoosiers.

Governor Mitch Daniels and Democratic challenger Jill Long Thompson, the people of Indiana have something to say. We look forward to your responses.