updated: 11/28/2012 7:52:24 AM

Effort Aims to Boost College Completion

Andy Ober, InsideINdianaBusiness.com

The chancellor of WGU Indiana says "needs in Indiana have changed," and more post-secondary education is required to keep up with the demand for highly-skilled talent. Allison Barber says the state is behind other parts of the nation in college completion rates. In a Studio(i) interview, Barber tells Inside INdiana Business Television Host Gerry Dick about a conference this weekend in Fort Wayne designed to be a "one-stop shop" for adults looking to advance their education.

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November 27, 2012

News Release

Fort Wayne, Ind. -- Today, the Talent Initiative--along with WGU Indiana, Ivy Tech Community College-Northeast, Northeast Indiana Regional Workforce Investment Board and CollegeChoice 529 Savings Plans--announced that registration is now open for the new College Completion Counts Conference in Northeast Indiana to take place on Saturday, December 1 . This conference is a collaborative effort of leaders from workforce development, economic development and educational institutions to attract students back to college by removing barriers that may have prevented their completion in the past. The conference will connect individuals who are interested in completion with resources, people and information that will aid their pursuit for success. In order to accommodate busy schedules, separate morning and afternoon sessions will be offered to interested participants.

"Generating educated and skilled workers is an important issue currently facing the economy of our region, state and country," said Leonard Helfrich, director of the Talent Initiative, a program of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership in collaboration with Community Partnerships Inc. "It is our job to work collaboratively to help remove barriers to college degree attainment. This conference will provide resources and information for individuals to return to college and gain a competitive advantage."

College Completion Counts Saturday, December 1 Public Safety Academy: Ivy Tech South Campus 7602 Patriot Crossing, Fort Wayne, IN 46816 Morning session: 8:30 a.m. to Noon Afternoon session: 12:30 to 4 p.m. Registration for the conference Individuals interested in attending the conference can register online at www.completioncounts.eventbrite.com. There is a $10 registration fee that will cover the cost of refreshments and materials provided at the conference.

Participants will:

Learn about resources that will help them complete college
Ask questions of and hear first-hand from graduates who successfully returned and earned a degree
Have an opportunity to meet individuals from Northeast

Indiana's educational institutions Informational topics include:

Financial aid and planning
Back-to-school preparation
Job searching for the 21st century
Time management and life balance

"As the newest state university focused on working adults, we recognize the need to build awareness for adults of new opportunities to pursue their educational goals," said WGU Indiana Chancellor Allison Barber. Research shows that by 2018, 60 percent of jobs in the U.S. will require postsecondary education, but the percentage of the Northeast Indiana workforce with a postsecondary degree or credential is currently less than 35 percent. That's why the region, through the efforts of Vision 2020 and the Talent Initiative, has adopted The Big Goal--to increase educational attainment to meet that 60 percent.

Vision 2020, an initiative of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, is designed to transform northeast Indiana into a top global competitor by focusing on a common mission to develop, attract and retain talent in our area. Due to the emphasis on the importance of talent, the Talent Initiative has stepped up to convene important events like the College Completion Counts conference that will bring the region closer to its goal. "The regional economy's success is reliant upon our educated workforce," said Ivy Tech Community College-Northeast Chancellor Jerrilee K. Mosier, Ed.D. "College completion is the best pathway to success for our citizens and their families, and generating educated and skilled workers is an important issue currently facing our region, state and country." Educational institutions from Northeast Indiana have been invited to be involved and have a presence at the conference.

About Talent Initiative

The Talent Initiative, established by a $20 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., is a 10-county regional program focused on accelerating education and training initiatives in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The primary goals of the Talent Initiative are to increase the base of highly skilled workers to meet the needs of the defense/aerospace and advanced manufacturing industries, while increasing job quality and reversing the current decline in regional per capita income. The program receives financial oversight from Community Partnerships, Inc., a supporting organization of the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne and operational oversight from the Northeast Indiana Fund, a supporting organization of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership. For more information, visit www.talentmadehere.com.

About WGU Indiana

WGU Indiana has been established by the State of Indiana as a nonprofit, online, competency-based university to expand access to higher education for Indiana residents. WGU Indiana offers more than 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in Business, Education, Information Technology and Healthcare Professions, including Nursing. Degrees are granted under the accreditation of Western Governors University, which is regionally accredited through the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) and nationally accredited through the Distance Education and Training Commission (DETC). Teachers College programs are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), and Nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). WGU Indiana is an approved education provider for Indiana state grants and scholarships offered through the State Student Assistance Commission of Indiana (SSACI). In addition, the university has partnered with Ivy Tech to offer graduates who have completed their associate degrees a seamless transfer to complete their bachelor's degrees at WGU Indiana, including tuition discounts.

About Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College is the state's largest public postsecondary institution and the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college system. Ivy Tech serves nearly 200,000 students annually and has campuses throughout Indiana. It functions as the state's engine of workforce development, offering affordable degree programs and training that are aligned with the needs of its community along with courses and programs that transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana. It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association.

About Northeast Indiana Regional Workforce Investment Board

The Region 3 Workforce Investment Board provides public and private financial and employment resources to businesses and individuals for education and skills training to meet the needs of regional industries. The Board sets policy for how public and private funds will be utilized to support talent development and it operates and staffs the county-based WorkOne Career centers in the region. Individuals and companies may access resources and services by visiting or calling WorkOne in their county: www.WorkOneNortheast.org.

About CollegeChoice 529 Savings Plans

The CollegeChoice 529 Direct Savings Plan helps individuals get ready for the college years with tax benefits to help money go farther; affordable minimum contribution; flexible investment choices; control over assets; easy online enrollment and management; and opportunities to enhance college savings with Ugift® and Upromise® and the Sallie Mae® 529 RewardsSM Card. CollegeChoice 529 Direct Savings Plan is administered by the Indiana Education Savings Authority. Upromise Investments, Inc. serves as the Program Manager and Upromise Investment Advisors, LLC, provides investment advisory services and recordkeeping and administrative services. UII and UIA have overall responsibility for the day-to-day operations, including marketing and distribution of the Plan.

Source: Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership

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