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  • III. Operational Planning Elements

    The Unified or Combined State Plan must include an Operational Planning Elements section that supports the State’s strategy and the system-wide vision described in Section II(c) above.  Unless otherwise noted, all Operational Planning Elements apply to Combined State Plan partner programs included in the plan as well as to core programs.  This section must include—

    • a. State Strategy Implementation

      The Unified or Combined State Plan must include–

      • 2. Implementation of State Strategy

        Describe how the lead State agency with responsibility for the administration of each core program or a Combined Plan partner program included in this plan will implement the State’s Strategies identified in Section II(c). above. This must include a description of—

III. a. 2. E. Partner Engagement with Educational Institutions

Describe how the State’s Strategies will engage the State’s community colleges and area career and technical education schools, as partners in the workforce development system to create a job-driven education and training system. WIOA section 102(b)(2)(B)(iv).

Current Narrative:

The talent developed by higher education institutions and training providers is critical to preparing individuals with the knowledge and skills significant to success in the economy and for fulfilling personal goals and aspirations. The result is a higher learning system where completion is comprehensive – including everything from micro-credentials and short-term certificates to associate, bachelor’s and graduate degrees – allowing learners to build, expand, stack, and show what they know throughout their careers. To attain personal and economic success requires Hoosiers to embrace lifelong learning as they navigate and advance in their careers. Higher education remains a powerful force to address income disparities, close equity gaps, provide personal prosperity, drive economic growth, promote civic engagement in our society, and enhance the quality of life in our Indiana communities. 

Indiana is committed to providing Hoosiers a system of higher education that empowers all people and our state to thrive amidst change—to innovate, adapt, and achieve. We continue to measure our success with an ambitious goal for at least 60% of Hoosiers to have education and training beyond a high school diploma by 2025, a goal directly aligned to our state’s future workforce needs. Indiana will take an inclusive approach to measuring progress. We will consider the full range of quality credentials, from quality workforce certificates to associate’s, bachelor’s, and professional degrees. Likewise, we will monitor outcomes for all Hoosiers in our system of higher education, from high school students earning postsecondary credit and credentials before graduating to adults who earn degrees or certificates later in their lives to increase their earning power and potential.

In a symbiotic relationship that drives our economy, businesses come to states and communities that can fill their talent needs, and talent is attracted to states where those job opportunities reside. A top-quality, engaged, affordable higher education system is central to that relationship and to our state’s economic health and vitality. This will include strong engagement from and partnership with our community colleges, technical schools, and four-year public institutions (both research and regional campuses). To produce the talent development system Indiana needs for a strong economy, the Commission for Higher Education has identified the following areas of focus to leverage and improve:

  • A more diverse student population that includes more adults, more low-income learners and more people of color;
  • New learning models by our colleges and universities;
  • A broader focus on credential attainment that includes everything from workforce certificates to four-year degrees and beyond; and
  • New providers that offer shorter-term credentials and training aligned to employer needs.

The need to engage with all institutions of higher education – including Indiana’s community college system, training providers, and four-year colleges and universities – stems from the recognition that higher education is no longer episodic for Hoosiers, but rather it is continual. In today’s economy, workers must engage in continual learning to adapt to innovations in every employment sector. This new reality is challenging higher education institutions like never before, and new providers and models are stepping up to fill the gaps and meet the demand.

As critical partners in talent development, Indiana must engage with institutions of higher education to develop new models that are focused on the unique and diverse needs of individual learners and the mindset of a commitment to lifelong learning. These models call for rapid turns and increased collaboration to meet the needs of employers. One example of this type of innovation is the Community Health Network’s Nursing Academy, which is a partnership between the Community Health Network, Ascend Indiana (an initiative which grew out of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership), and the University of Indianapolis to start training future nurses in college. When they graduate, they go right to jobs at Community.

We must respond to the ever-changing economic tides and concerns with a bold re-conception of higher education that builds upon the gains we have made in higher education accessibility and opportunities. We need a new education compact in our state: one that aligns K-12 education, postsecondary education, and continuing education; permits smooth transitions among them; and provides more Hoosiers affordable, flexible lifelong learning options while preserving quality and advancing equitable economic opportunity.

Indiana has one accredited community college system throughout the state, Ivy Tech Community College. Co-location among our community college campuses, WorkOnes, and other social service providers (such as the Division of Family Resources) is essential to creating greater integration of the various aspects of our talent development system. Co-location among these organizations can include embedding programmatic or frontline staff physically or virtually through a chatbox feature in the same location. This also includes providers at K-12 school districts, Adult Education programs, and community college campuses co-locate to pool resources for equipment, supplies, instructors, facilities, and other expenses. Co-location – either physically in the same space, embedding staffers in different offices, and offering mobile or virtual services – will also allow us to bridge the divide between education and training opportunities and the pull of supportive services. It also builds greater articulation from secondary to postsecondary to adult and continuing education within our workforce development programs. Co-location of our various offices and services will benefit Hoosiers by increasing awareness and access to these programs and creating seamless transitions as they advance in their education and training. Local regions can determine how to increase co-location partnerships through varied schedules, hours, instructors, and approaches.

Additional strategies Indiana has identified to engage our higher education institutions with our workforce development system include:

  • Encouraging two-year institutions (including community colleges) to restructure their programs so learners are enrolled in, complete, and are awarded shorter-term certificates as they continue toward their associate degree;
  • Facilitating transitions into higher education through summer bridge programs, career exploration opportunities, talent tours, class audits, campus visits and tours, and informational interviews;
  • Creating a model “Learner-Ready” rubric to help community college campuses and WorkOne offices assess their programs’ readiness to accommodate the needs of their unique learner populations;
  • Counseling populations who have exited the postsecondary pipeline or never entered it about the variety of stackable, credit-bearing and financial aid opportunities, as well as the flexibility for enrollment and persistence options for non-traditional or part-time students;
  • Developing co-branded, employer-driven learning models that lead to credentials in highly-dynamic industries through WIOA career pathways and Perkins programs of study;[1]
  • Increasing the number of high school students earning intentional dual credits, high-value technical certificates, or the Statewide Transfer General Education Core (STGEC) before graduating high school through expanding and ensuring quality partnerships between K-12 school districts, community colleges, and four-year institutions; and
  • Requiring 100% of postsecondary programs to include an internship, work-based, research, or other student engagement experience that has career relevance and connects them to relevant career opportunities. Two programs we intend to leverage to do this include:
    • Redesigning our implementation of Federal Work-Study to focus on work-based learning models, and
    • Scaling EARN Indiana.

The redesign of our Career-Technical Education (CTE) programs of study under the Carl D. Perkins Act will directly align secondary CTE courses and standards with their postsecondary counterparts. Through purposeful and intentional realignment of our secondary and postsecondary CTE programs, students throughout Indiana will have the opportunity to earn stackable, quality credentials by high school graduation. This will include industry-recognized certification and the culmination of dual credit or enrollment courses into one year of a postsecondary program. Ensuring this alignment in CTE programs requires deep collaboration between postsecondary institutions, in particular our community colleges, and secondary schools in both the development and implementation of these new programs and standards. Additionally, postsecondary and secondary institutions must also consult with employers through both the creation and execution stages of these new programs to ensure industry relevancy and alignment.

Our community college system also provides us with the means to interweave our Perkins funds with the WIOA program to help create robust career pathways. Because WIOA programs can occur at community colleges and they are our Perkins postsecondary recipients, local regions can leverage community colleges as the hub for implementing and funding career pathways for all Hoosiers. Our community college system can offer bridge programs that coordinate academic and occupational instruction by providing basic educational remediation concurrently with, rather than as a prerequisite for, college-level courses. Ivy Tech Community College altered its remedial curriculum to allow for a co-requisite delivery format. The co-requisite model melds remediation with “gateway” courses and provides students with the opportunity to earn credit towards their degree rather than completing a remedial course prior to enrolling in the credit-bearing “gateway” course.[2]

Similarly, our WorkOnes can embed Wagner-Peyser staff at community colleges to provide career counseling and information regarding current labor market trends and job availability, future employment needs in sectors and industries, and connections to employers and employer associations. This type of program blends career-technical education, WIOA Core Programs, and higher education into one location and enrollment, easing the administrative burden on the individual Hoosier and allowing local regions to braid funding from various sources.

Through our community college, we can meld career pathways and programs of study into one concept, allowing Indiana to serve both adults and high school students through coordinated, aligned, and structured pathways leading toward recognized postsecondary credentials. Additionally, similar career pathways and programs of study in the same sector could share employer partnerships and industry-recognized credentials identified as most relevant for their local economies. They would leverage each other’s industry connections and other strengths, reducing duplication, maximizing funding, and building wide-reaching partnerships. Community colleges can also provide both high school and adult students with a variety of career exploration and awareness opportunities connected to postsecondary education and employment. Through talent tours, job shadowing, worksite tours, class audits, campus visits and tours, industry speakers, and informational interviews, these institutions can help make connections for adult students to postsecondary education and jobs as they transition to more challenging work.

[1] Indiana will convene the Institute of Workforce Excellence (IWE) under the state Chamber of Commerce, postsecondary institutions, and other sector organizations to develop these career pathways comprised of stackable credentials that lead to career advancement and degrees.

[2] Ivy Tech Community College modeled this program after the Accelerated Learning Program, which originated at the Community College of Baltimore County, and has shown consistent student success with nearly double the pass rates.