The central message of Monday’s state of higher education address is one Hoosiers have heard before; it focused on the need for a more skilled workforce.
Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers reinforced one of Gov. Eric Holcomb’s biggest priorities during her annual state of higher education address: an education workforce.
“More than ever, the imperative to develop human capital is the most critical issue facing the state of Indiana,” she says.
In order to do that, she says education officials and employers need to work together.
Lubbers says declining enrollment is a serious issue facing colleges and universities, but she says one of Indiana’s biggest issues is preparing more people for the transition from high school to college, and continued education for adults.
She stressed the importance of higher education adapting to meet the needs of more adult learners and being more personalized to different student needs.
“The needs of the individual learner should drive the delivery system, whether that’s the 18-year-old college freshman or the 35-year-old returning adult,” she says.
Lubbers says Indiana’s largest industries are likely to see more automated jobs, but people with more education have a lower risk of losing their jobs to automation. She says it’s especially important to do things differently in higher education with rapid technological change.
“If we fail to do so,” she says, “we will be contributing to greater income disparity and social stratification.”
Lubbers says the commission will focus largely on strategy this year, and boost efforts to get more people connected with a higher learning credential. The commission, and Governor Holcomb, aim for at least 60 percent of Hoosiers earning some kind of college credential by 2025.