Friday, September 24th, 2021

Skills gap hit election campaign spotlight

Posted: Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Citing what he called a "skills gap" in Indiana, Mike Pence on Wednesday, June 13, called for the creation of regional Indiana Works Councils (IWCs) to bring employers and educators together to design demand-driven career, technical and vocational curriculum to create job opportunities for high school graduates.

"There is a skills gap in the Indiana workforce. To make Indiana the state that works, we should start by making sure that every student has the opportunity to start on success," said Pence. "The time has come to make career, technical and vocational education a priority in every high school in Indiana."

Pence pointed to research that showed the importance of making career, technical and vocational education a priority in every Indiana high school:

In 2011 only 1 percent (1,010) of all high school graduates earned a Core40 with Technical Honors degree, and yet Indiana has the third highest percentage of high school graduates in our workforce. Improving the quality of Indiana high school graduates is critical to improving the quality of Indiana's workforce.

Many certifications and associate degrees pay higher salaries than the average bachelor's degree. While the median earnings of a worker with a bachelor's degree are $36,662, the median earnings for a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) related certificate are $45,554 and $51,737 for a STEM-related associate degree. Putting high school students on a pathway toward earning these degrees will significantly increase their earnings potential.

"We should aspire to have the best-educated and best-skilled high school graduates in the country," Pence said. "All honest work is honorable work, and we should honor that principle in our high schools in Indiana."

In addition to creating regional Indiana Works Councils (IWCs), Pence's proposal would expand career, technical and vocational education opportunities in high schools across Indiana by empowering the IWCs to recommend changes to career, technical and vocational curriculum to the State Board of Education. New curricula would need to focus on giving high school students opportunities to pursue internships and apprenticeships, learn from qualified instructors, and ultimately earn an industry certification or be on a career pathway to a high-wage, high-demand job.

Pence was joined by Steve Hagen, director of the Central Nine Career Center in Greenwood; Greg Hinshaw, Superintendent of Randolph Central School Corporation; Gary Hobbs, President, BWI Contractors; Chris Lowery, Director of Public Policy and Engagement at Hillenbrand, Inc. and President of the Batesville School Board; and Randall Decker, a Career and Technical Education instructor at the Walker Career Center in MSD-Warren Township.

Lowery supports placing new priority on career, technical and vocational education and improving the current curricula.

"It is time that we recognize that every student's path to career success does not include college," said Lowery. "We have great jobs available for those students right now, and employers and educators need to work together to give students the skills to be successful in those jobs."

Pence will continue to roll out additional policy proposals throughout the summer, with a strong emphasis on job creation and education. Background on his career, technical and vocational education policy proposal can be found at

Source: Mike Pence For Indiana Committee