Photo: Rick Emert/Fort Carson
Despite showing signs of economic recovery, Indiana’s unemployment rate has hovered around 8 percent for more than a year. The forecast is even more dire for Indiana’s youth.
Ball State economist Cecil Bohanon says the unemployment rate among Hoosiers age 20 to 24 is above 12 percent. Include 16- to 19-year olds and it goes up to 15 percent. Bohanon says missing out on jobs at those ages can have negative effects throughout their working lives.
“The kid doesn’t get work experience between 16 and 19, what happens? He’s not a very good worker when he’s 20 or 25,” says Bohanon. “If the young professional, 22, doesn’t get the internship, they never are able to make that leap when they are 28 or 29 because they never had that experience.”
Bohanon says one way to fix that is encouraging the shift in thinking about post-secondary education – namely, simply getting a four year college degree is not necessarily the best option, which is why Governor Mike Pence says he is emphasizing a renewed focus on career and vocational education in Indiana’s high schools.
“We have pockets around Indiana where we’ve got strong career and technical education programs, but we’ve also got pockets where we have very little,” says Pence. “The last time I checked, high school graduates who graduated with a Core 40 with technical honors was less than one percent of our high school graduates.”
Pence says the new Indiana Career Council and Regional Works Councils will help facilitate the creation of high school career and vocational education programs that are tailored to the specific workforce needs of the state’s different areas.