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Call 6: Roadblocks prevent Hoosiers from "upskilling"

Posted at 1:43 PM, May 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-02 19:51:09-04

All this week on RTV6 at 6 p.m., Call 6 Investigates Kara Kenney is looking at the true Cost of Living in Indiana and how you can get ahead.

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana desperately needs more skilled workers. However, Hoosiers wanting to go back to school for more education and training often face a slew of roadblocks making it difficult to “upskill.”

Over the next decade, Indiana will have more than a million skilled work force positions that will need to be filled.

But Indiana will not have enough skilled workers to fill those positions, according to Andrew Bradley, a senior policy analyst with the Indiana Institute for Working Families.

In 2015, 58 percent of Indiana’s jobs were considered middle skilled, which is considered somewhere between a high school degree and a 4-year degree, Bradley said.

“The problem is only 47 percent of Hoosiers currently have the education and training to fill those jobs,” Bradley said. “So, there is a specific skills gap where we need to get more Hoosiers back into education and training so they can compete for those high skilled, high demand jobs.”

A full-time student at Ivy Tech pays about $2,027 a semester, according to Kaylee Showers, spokesperson with the Indiana Commission on Higher Education.

However, cost is only one factor when it comes to whether to upskill.

According to a study from the Indiana Institute for Working Families, other factors include affordable child care, as well as access to transportation and computers/internet.

MORE | Read the full study here

“It takes a lot for a working adult to be able to take the plunge and go back to school,” said Bradley. “It’s really not that simple.”

PREVIOUS | Cost of child care an increasing burden to Hoosier families

Some Hoosiers are bucking that trend and going back to school to upskill.

Nallely Garcia, 28, is a single mother of three living in Delphi, Indiana.

She works full time as a medical assistant, but making ends meet is tough.

“Sometimes I have to choose between paying my bills or buying food,” Garcia said.

Fed up with scraping by, Garcia is going back to school again.

Even though she already has a 2-year degree in medical assisting, Garcia is getting her bachelor’s degree in health care management from Harrison College in Lafayette.

“I dream big,” said Garcia. “My ultimate goal is to own a health care company.”

Garcia’s goal is to boost her annual salary by at least $40,000 and give her children a better life.

“I hope they learn to never give up and go for their dreams regardless of how much it costs," Garcia said.

On the day Call 6 Investigates stopped by, Garcia worked a full day, spent some time with her children, dropped off two of them at her ex-husband’s house, and then drove 30 minutes with her daughter to attend her orientation at Harrison College in Lafayette.

Campus director Cindy Clampitt said many students, like Garcia, are facing obstacles.

“They overcome loss of jobs, they overcome divorce, often times, they're facing a death in the family and they're left to be the primary caregiver," said Garcia.  “When they graduate, I tell them they’re my heroes.”

Harrison College moved to a new location to be closer to public transportation.

“We were not on the bus route where we were located before,” said Clampitt.

The Indiana Institute for Working Families is pushing Indiana to eliminate barriers and help more Hoosiers upskill, like Garcia.

“Employers are coming to us and saying ‘we need a skilled work force,’” said Bradley. “The stakes could not be higher, both for individuals but also for our state. If we want to move the state to the next level, we need to make sure we're filling in the missing pieces for Hoosiers.  "

As part of their study, the institute has issued a slew of recommendations including pushing universities to create carpooling programs and expanding SNAP, also known as food stamps.

As for Nallely Garcia, she knows it won’t be easy juggling school, work and kids.

"After the meals are on the table, I will go and do my homework,” said Garcia. “If i have to stay up, I will. That's what it takes."

She’s confident upskilling will pay off for her family in the long run.

“I want to become that person that inspires others to do their best to push through their challenges, push through their obstacles, and just do it,” said Garcia.

Indiana recently launched a “You Can Go Back” campaign, which helped award more than 5,360 adult student grants and more than 9,000 students contacted have re-enrolled in school.

CONTACT INFO for “You Can Go Back”:

Click here for more information on the campaign or contact Liz Walker at 317-232-1030,

The campaign offers night, weekend and online classes, grade and debt forgiveness, tuition discounts and $1,000 state grants available on a first-come, first-serve basis for qualifying Hoosiers, according to the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.


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All this week on RTV6 at 6 p.m., Call 6 Investigates Kara Kenney is looking at the true Cost of Living in Indiana and how you can get ahead.