Study: Too Few Jobs For Four-Year College Grads

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A new study commissioned by the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership suggests too few job opportunities exist in the state for those with bachelor's degrees. The research finds, despite a "strong" higher education pipeline, graduates are leaving Indiana for more career opportunities. CICP President David Johnson tells Inside INdiana Business the Hoosier business community needs to do more to keep graduates in-state. July 17, 2013

News Release

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - A newly released study, commissioned by the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership (CICP) and conducted by the Battelle Technology Partnership Practice, finds that Indiana does not produce enough high-skilled job opportunities (those requiring at least a bachelor's degree) for the state's steady supply of four-year college graduates. As a result, the study concludes that the lack of job opportunities for these graduates "leads to their migration, and ultimately to the state's low adult educational attainment ranking relative to the nation, despite a strong higher education pipeline."

The Lilly Endowment-funded study, Indiana's Competitive Economic Advantage: The Opportunity to Win the Global Competition for College Educated Talent, spotlights a problem that "isn't too many graduates, it's too few jobs. The state's solid higher education pipeline is an asset to be strengthened and exploited."

The study shows growth of high-skilled employment in some of the industries that drive the Indiana economy - including manufacturing and logistics, life sciences, technology, corporate headquarters and finance, energy and engineering technical services - but at rates generally lower than the national average for many of these sectors. Because this has been the case for many years, Indiana ranks 44th in bachelor's degree-educated adults as a percentage of the adult working-age population. This factor correlates with Indiana's relatively low ranking in per capita personal income and affects the state's ability to build a business climate conducive to growth.

Indiana's relative shortage of workers in jobs that require a bachelor's degree is not due to a lack of sufficient supply of college and university graduates: "College degree production related to high-skilled occupations is growing in Indiana - at a pace similar to the nation," according to the Battelle/CICP study. Still, based on extensive data analysis, employer interviews and results of surveys from nearly 2,000 recent college graduates, the study finds that with a few exceptions, especially in the information technology sector, the Indiana economy is generating too few job opportunities that require a bachelor's degree for the state's supply of college graduates.

"Our Indiana colleges and universities are increasing the number of graduates in highly sought after science, technology, engineering and math degrees as well as in business," said David Johnson, president and CEO of CICP, a coalition consisting of the CEOs of prominent Central Indiana corporations and university presidents, dedicated to the region's long-term growth and economic development. "This bodes well for Indiana as we seek to grow, attract and retain businesses desiring a knowledge-based workforce. But we have a lot more work to do when it comes to creating enough high-skilled jobs for our college graduates. We also need to improve the connections among our business communities, universities and students with respect to the high-skilled jobs that are available."

The study makes a number of recommendations for increasing Indiana’s supply of high-skilled jobs. These include, among others:

-Creating more significant public-private collaborations, such as the recently announced Indiana Biosciences Research Institute, which can be spearheaded by industry cluster initiatives like BioCrossroads, Conexus Indiana, Energy Systems Network and TechPoint;

-Coordinating state and regional economic development efforts to attract wealth-producing companies and operations in high-value cluster areas such as life sciences, advanced manufacturing and logistics and information technology;

-Encouraging stronger efforts to promote university commercialization of technology that can lead to new technology-intensive businesses;

-Promoting a business climate that encourages entrepreneurial activity and business start-ups; and

-Targeting special tax incentives to companies that hire recent Indiana college graduates in high-skilled jobs.

The Battelle study further recommends a series of action steps for colleges, universities and employers to connect promising college graduates better with those high-skilled jobs that are already here.

These actions include:

-Creating more technology-related career-orientation coursework for Indiana college students;

-Forging more industry-higher education partnerships to engage employers in providing and expanding internships and externships, job shadowing, mentoring, project-based learning programs and other 'real-world' opportunities for students and faculty;

-Developing a statewide consortium approach to career services for college graduates; and

-Expanding technology-specific post-baccalaureate certificate programs to provide graduates with new abilities and technical skills to make them more attractive to employers.

"The study shows it's critical that we look beyond traditional career placement efforts and take advantage of our unique Hoosier culture of collaboration by having our universities work with our skill-intensive companies to develop new ideas that can help place and employ four-year graduates," Johnson said.

Johnson noted that the Battelle study calls for more intentional strategies and efforts on the part of leaders in business, government and education to increase and enhance the supply of high-skilled jobs. He believes one way Indiana can address this issue is by touting its surplus of talented graduates coming from Indiana four-year colleges and universities. "Students who earn degrees from Indiana colleges and universities could be hired into a variety of high-skilled occupations that will advance Indiana's economy. It is imperative that we provide them with the best opportunities possible for their future, and for the future of all of Indiana's economy."

Full Study: A copy of the full study, Indiana's Competitive Economic Advantage: The Opportunity to Win the Global Competition for College Educated Talent, can be found at www.cincorp.com.

About Central Indiana Corporate Partnership (CICP)

The Central Indiana Corporate Partnership (CICP) was formed in 1999 to bring together the chief executives of Central Indiana’s prominent corporations and university presidents in a strategic and collaborative effort dedicated to the region's continued prosperity and growth. To advance this mission, CICP sponsors four key economic development initiatives, BioCrossroads, Conexus Indiana, Energy Systems Network and TechPoint, each of which addresses challenges and opportunities unique to its respective sector: life sciences, advanced manufacturing and logistics, alternative energy systems and information technology.

Source: The Central Indiana Corporate Partnership