Words from DWD Director

I was once told, “You cannot fail at an impossible job; you just try not to lose too much ground.” Too often, this is how our world faces big challenges. When I began working in adult education in 2010, there were approximately 510,000 Hoosiers without a secondary diploma. This did seem an overwhelming challenge, and it would have been easy to “just try not to lose too much ground.” But this is not how Indiana Adult Education operates. Currently housed under the Department of Workforce Development (DWD), adult education providers have experienced agency change, leadership change, legislative change, and funding changes over the last 13 years. Regardless, they have humbly stayed focused on serving students and
improving outcomes.

These servant leaders focus on each individual, helping them gain the skills and confidence they need to cross the finish line and enter or advance in the workforce. They celebrate student accomplishments through graduation and credential attainment ceremonies and quietly move on to the next person in need without taking time to acknowledge how far they have come. During a critical legislative session, I think it is important to reflect on their work and achievements.

Since 2010 DWD Indiana Adult Education providers have helped close to 60,000 adults, earn a High School Equivalency Diploma (HSED). Through occupational training classes, 15,000 Hoosiers earned a high-wage, high-demand post-secondary credential. Thousands of highly skilled immigrants have learned the English language skills needed to enter and advance in the workforce. Hundreds of employers have partnered to offer workforce-based adult education classes upskilling employees, creating safer work environments, and improving retention rates. Leveraging state and federal dollars, these services are offered at a cost of less than $1,200 per participant.

The dedication of adult educators serving all 92 counties has made DWD Indiana Adult Education a national leader. Since 2010, measurable skill gains, the metric used to measure educational attainment, has increased from 42% to 70% and leads US states for the fourth consecutive year. Last year Indiana was second in the number of HSED issued and fourth for the number of students participating in Integrated Education and Training (IET) classes which include occupational skill training. While Indiana’s total population is 17th in the nation, adult education ranks 12th nationally for the number of students served. Several provider programs have been recognized nationally for their innovation, and state staff are often called upon by USDOE to share best practices in program management.

Indiana has reason to celebrate the great work being done in Adult Education programming offered through DWD. However, we must acknowledge there are still 432,000 Hoosiers between 18-64 without a secondary diploma. These individuals have a lower workforce participation rate and higher unemployment rate than those with a secondary diploma. 111,000 are young adults not in school and unemployed. Sadly, this number continues to grow every year. It will take all adult secondary programs working together, as well as the K-12 system, to address this need.

The Governors Workforce Cabinet (GWC) recognized this as a priority and recommended significant and immediate funding increases to Indiana’s key adult education programs – Indiana Adult Education through DWD, Adult Charter High Schools, and the Workforce Diploma Reimbursement. The Governor’s Next Level Agenda 2023 proposed increased funding to all key adult education programs as well. With these additional resources, Indiana Adult Education providers can meet the needs of the 8,000 individuals and 60 employers currently waiting for classes. It will also assist our partner adult education programs to expand service as well.

Additional funding will allow the three primary adult education programs to continue to reduce the number of individuals without a secondary diploma and meet employer needs for a skilled workforce. A stronger workforce will move Hoosiers to the Next Level, increase economic growth, and ensure Indiana remains competitive in a global economy. I am sure DWD Indiana Adult Education is ready for the challenge!

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *