Gov. Eric Holcomb wants to re-enroll 25,000 college dropouts in school, double the number of state apprenticeships and help 30,000 Hoosiers obtain a high school diploma and a better job — all this year.
Those were among five benchmarks the Republican governor outlined in his second State of the State address, which he was delivering Tuesday night to a joint session of the Indiana House and Senate.
The goal is to address a worker shortage, which Holcomb described in prepared remarks as "85,000 jobs in Indiana unfilled because employers can't find the people equipped with the skills they need." And it's a problem he said will get worse as economic development wins add more jobs.
As a result, Holcomb wrote in his address that his focus for 2018 "can be summed up in three words: people, people, people."
“We have the resources to begin to crack this code, and we’re going to put them to work for every student and worker in our state who wants to get ahead,” he said in the prepared remarks.
Holcomb's goals are:
- Enrolling 25,000 of the more than 700,000 people who have started college but quit at some point back in a college program this year.
- Help 30,000 of the 475,000 adults who don’t have a high school diploma obtain one get and get a better job this year.
- Increase the number of state work-based learning and apprenticeships from 12,500 to 25,000 by the end of 2019.
- Engage 250 companies this year to train and hire employees through a previously announced employer training grant program
- Help at least 1,000 of the 25,000 inmates in Indiana prisons graduate annually by 2020 in certificate programs that will lead to jobs.
“Add this all up, and we’re talking about more than one million of our fellow Hoosiers that need and can be skilled up,” Holcomb planned to say. “Let’s give them the tools they need to reach their full potential. Think of the value for them, your communities and for our state.”
The programs and processes associated with Holcomb's goals have generally been underway. But the specificity of the goals for 2018 is new.
Take the goal of re-enrolling Hoosiers who have earned some college credits but dropped out of school before earning a degree. In 2016, the state set a long-term goal of helping 200,000 of those adults earn degrees by 2020. The Indiana Commission for Higher Education worked with universities to target students via direct mail or other communications and provide incentives for returning to school.
In its first year, more than 9,000 adults contacted by the state through the “You Can. Go Back” initiative had re-enrolled in college, according to a state report. That was about 4.5 percent of the larger goal.
Now Holcomb wants 25,000 of those adults to return to school this year.