As she reflects on her three-and-a-half years in office, former Lieutenant Governor Sue Ellspermann says one of the things she is most proud of is job creation in rural Indiana, but readily admits there is much work to be done. "Over 90,000 of the 140,000 jobs we’ve seen over our administration have come to our rural counties," said Ellspermann, "but we’re still projecting population loss in most of those rural counties, so we still have work to do."
Ellspermann officially ended her duties as lieutenant governor March 2 and is actively pursuing the president’s job at Ivy Tech Community College. Her successor, former Indiana Republican State Chairman Eric Holcomb, was sworn in as the state’s 51st lieutenant governor the following day.
In an exclusive interview on Inside INdiana Business Television, Ellspermann reflected on her achievements in office and challenges that remain.
"As lieutenant governor, I oversee six agencies so I say it’s like six children and I’m so proud of everything all six agencies have done, from small business to agriculture to tourism," said Ellspermann.
But she clearly sees her workforce issues, in particular formation of the Indiana Career Council, as some of her most important work.
"We knew three years ago, when unemployment was at ten percent, that workforce was becoming a challenge, and today’s it’s ever more a challenge," said Ellspermann, who says the council is "laser-focused" on aligning education with the needs of Hoosier employers.
She says the work of the council and increased awareness are helping address the state’s skills gap, which is especially acute in rural areas.
"We set a very aggressive goal of 60 percent of our workforce having post-secondary credentials by 2025," said Ellspermann, who says that number is now in the range of 34-36 percent. "We’re making progress, but we have a long way to go.”
Ellspermann, a PhD in industrial engineering, says her exposure to the state’s work force needs played a role in her interest to be the successor to Tom Snyder as president of Ivy Tech Community College.
"The career council work probably cemented it for me… understanding where we need to be in Indiana," said Ellspermann. "Ivy Tech touches almost 200,000 Hoosiers a year… that’s IU and Purdue combined. Think about if we can move people up that ladder, one more skill, one more credential at a time."
The Ivy Tech Board of Trustees is expected to make a decision on the president’s position in April.