INDIANAPOLIS | Gov. Mike Pence has vowed to take whatever actions are needed to ensure that by 2025 at least 60 percent of Hoosier workers have earned college degrees or other post-high school credentials sought by Indiana employers.
The Republican leader of the Indiana Career Council committed to changing the state's education and workforce training programs to meet that goal, unanimously adopted Monday as the focus of the council's strategic plan.
"If this feels a little blue sky, if this feels very aggressive, if it makes you a little uncomfortable -- that's intentional," Pence said. "Because our objective here is ... to be transformative."
The 67-page plan, set to be presented Tuesday to members of the General Assembly, details dozens of strategies aimed at boosting the state's post-secondary attainment rate above the current 34 percent.
They center on creating a seamless transition from education to work by teaching job skills in schools, better preparing students for in-demand career choices and integrating internships and other workplace experiences into the classroom.
Pence said nothing less than a complete reshaping of Indiana's values to prioritize lifelong learning and ongoing skills training will be necessary to meet the 60 percent goal.
"That is easily our greatest challenge here -- to raise the bar in our culture for continuous education and continuous aspiration," Pence said.
The governor said figuring out how to do that is the next task for the bipartisan Career Council, which was established by a 2013 state law to align the various participants in Indiana's education, job skills development and career training systems.
"This is not the end. It's the end of the beginning," Pence said. "Now the real work starts."
State Sen. Frank Mrvan, D-Hammond, an advisory member of the Career Council, said he believes the goal is attainable so long as the governor and state lawmakers keep politics out of it and make sure all Hoosiers know about it.
"It will be a long process," Mrvan said. "But it's a step forward."