Too many Hoosiers — especially high school graduates and their parents — are not aware of the options available to improve their job prospects.
Bill Stanczykiewicz, CEO of the Indianapolis-based Indiana Youth Institute, said in conversations with officials at Ivy Tech Community College, for instance, there are 50,000 jobs available — and no qualified workers to take them. He said a college education is important, but it's not the only option available to students.
Stanczykiewicz, who visited Northwest Indiana this week, said state officials intend to place more emphasis on the technical honors diploma, which less than 10 percent of Indiana graduates pursue.
He also said counselors need assistance in helping students understand their options after high school graduation and help in connecting students with the myriad resources available that too few know about.
He said 90 percent of the school counselors who responded to a recent Indiana Youth Institute survey said they did not know all the information necessary to help students succeed.
"Some programs don't take four years," Stanczykiewicz said.
"Students can go into programs which only require one year or two years. Not everyone wants a four-year degree. Not enough counselors know about the options that are available, and they say they don't always have the time; they have too many kids to serve, and they are dealing with a multitude of social issues."
On a related topic, Stanczykiewicz said new data show Indiana children are growing up healthier, but the state continues to struggle with high rates of child poverty.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT Data Book for 2013 ranked Indiana 21st in child health, up 13 spots from last year. The new ranking is bolstered by a 20 percent decrease in the rate of child and teen deaths from 2005 to 2010.
However, "child poverty continues to rise in Indiana," Stanczykiewicz said. "There are many reasons for this, such as single-parent homes, lower levels of education and a legacy of racism. Coming from a single-parent household doesn't mean gloom and doom, but it means a child is five to six times more likely to grow up in poverty."
He said the long-term solution is a better education for Hoosiers.