Op/Ed: Indiana students need education that prepares for in-demand jobs now — and later
I have been fortunate to see Indiana, time and again, adjust to economic winds of change.
From new automotive plants to pharmaceuticals, industries with good career and employment opportunities here in Indiana don’t just happen. They require vision, planning and investments from businesses, employees and elected officials. And to create long-term success with a pipeline of talent, they require the same from schools, educators and students.
Indiana has an opportunity right now to strengthen and, in fact, reinvent the way we prepare all Hoosiers to find the right job and a rewarding career. It starts in our K-12 education system. With the strong leadership and support of House Speaker Todd Huston, House Bill 1002 would expand training in our high schools to keep pace with our state’s rapidly evolving workforce needs.
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This strategic approach is being adopted in other states. Yet, through HB 1002, Indiana would set itself apart by putting more power in the hands of students and families, giving them resources to find the best fit for gaining in-demand career skills. The legislation would create an innovative Career Scholarship Account for high school students that families could use to pay for courses, training, or apprenticeship costs. Customized education accounts are powerful resources for families, reducing economic barriers and giving more students the freedom to follow and achieve their dreams.
The traditional path of graduating high school and earning a four-year degree is still a great way to enter certain fields. But that path does not serve all students, especially as more businesses in many sectors need a well-trained workforce — with unique and specific 21st-century skills — so they can adapt to global competition.
HB 1002 is a great way to support that. It will expand work-based learning for high school students with opportunities like youth apprenticeships and internships. These will allow our students to graduate high school with more than a diploma. They will have earned the credentials to land high-paying, relevant and in-demand jobs.
Indiana is fortunate to have bold leaders who understand the need to reimagine high school for the 21st century. I’m grateful for Huston’s commitment in making this bill a priority. And the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Chuck Goodrich — along with one of our state’s most passionate advocates for students and families, Rep. Bob Behning — are guiding HB 1002 through the Statehouse with an eye on what's best for our students, our communities and our state. They understand that the purpose of an education is much more than ensuring core classroom work is completed. It’s focused on preparing each student for success beyond high school and our workforce.
Indiana has a strong history of adapting to change while ensuring all Hoosiers can pursue their passions and dreams. Let’s seize this opportunity to work together to make sure our children, and all future generations, have the right support, training and skills to thrive.
Allan Hubbard is co-founder and chairman of E&A Industries, former director of the National Economic Council, a member of the Indiana Commission for Higher Education and serves on the ExcelinEd board of directors.