November 3, 2022

Report shows a widening misalignment between job growth and educational attainment in Indiana post-pandemic

A new report from Ascend Indiana and EmployIndy takes a deeper look at the job market and postsecondary education following the pandemic.

A new report from Ascend Indiana and EmployIndy takes a deeper look at the job market and postsecondary education following the pandemic.

A new report from Ascend Indiana and EmployIndy takes a deeper look at the job market and postsecondary education following the pandemic.

Jason Kloth, president, and CEO of Ascend Indiana said there was one key takeaway.

“The pandemic rapidly accelerated the demand for degreed talent, while subsequently reducing demand for non-degreed talent. And this was particularly relevant for Marion County,” Kloth said.

He said few high school students go on to enroll in post-secondary programs that align with fields where there are going to be good jobs.

The report also found pronounced equity gaps that persist throughout the entire education to employment pipeline.

“And those equity gaps are relevant for both men and women. They're very pronounced, but they're also extraordinarily pronounced for people of color,” Kloth said.

He said there are gaps and deficiencies in the data needed for the city and state to be able to move the needle, particularly to increase the number of work-based learning opportunities that lead to employment.

“Increasing education and employer partnerships is foundational in changing some of these trends, with employers of all sizes providing career awareness and work-based learning experiences beginning in middle school and extending beyond high school,” said Marie Mackintosh, president and CEO, EmployIndy. 

The report outlines recommendations that address alignment gaps and provide equitable opportunities to obtain quality jobs. 

  • Education and employer partnerships: These are foundational to initial development and successful implementation of aligned learning systems. As co-creators of talent, employers can and should actively engage in education processes to train their employees of tomorrow, including curriculum development, instruction, and experience delivery. Employer engagement with education systems must improve to meet accelerating and changing labor market conditions. Employers of all sizes should provide career awareness and exposure experiences beginning in middle and extending beyond high school.
  • 21st Century Scholars automatic enrollment: Indiana’s 21st Century Scholars program provides income-eligible students up to full tuition and enumerated fees at Indiana postsecondary institutions. The current policy requiring sign up before the end of 8th grade contributes to under half of eligible students enrolling in the program. Students who meet 21st Century Scholar income and academic performance requirements should have access to scholarship funds andprogram benefits. A policy of automatic student enrollment would encourage more high school students to pursue college and help address Indiana’s declining postsecondary enrollment trends.
  • Certificate research and analysis: A comprehensive study and evaluation of certificatesprograms and training providers is needed to understand Indiana’s certificate landscape. The state’s certificate landscape is rapidly expanding and changing, with significant activity not captured in established reporting processes. An analysis of this kind should capture thesechanges and critically evaluate industry value, stack-ability, job placement and wage growth.

The full report, Indiana’s Evolving Labor Market: How the Pandemic has Accelerated Misalignment in Talent Supply and Demand, can be found on the Ascend Indiana website.

Contact WFYI Morning Edition newscaster and reporter Taylor Bennett at Follow on Twitter: @TaylorB2213.

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