News release from the Morris for State Senate campaign:
Morris outlines community college plan
(September 30, 2014) – On Tuesday, Candidate for State Senate Jack Morris announced an initiative providing two years of tuition-free community college or technical training for high school seniors. Morris announced his community college affordability plan during the Plumbers & Steamfitters Local 166 annual Industrial Advancement and Apprenticeship Promotion event. Morris emphasized the importance of bridging the skills gap and offering the training Indiana’s workforce requires.
“Ensuring Hoosier graduates have the skills to compete in the 21st century economy demands immediate action,” said Morris. “By making community college or technical training a realistic option for more Hoosiers, we can create a pipeline of qualified workers for in-demand industries.”
“It’s a win-win for our students and our businesses,” said Morris. “Students receive an education and we provide businesses with the skilled, in-demand workers they need.”
Morris modeled his proposal after a similar program launched last year in Tennessee that couples last-dollar tuition support with mentoring and a commitment from participants to engage in community service. Students must maintain a 2.0 grade point average and file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The Tennessee Promise is projected to cost about $34 million annually.
“The cost of higher education is pricing many middle-class Hoosiers out of a better future,” said Morris. “By pursuing this plan, we can give those same students a shot at the skills they need to succeed.”
According to Governor Pence’s Commissioner for Higher Education, 54 percent of all jobs in Indiana are classified as middle-skilled, but only 47 percent of Hoosiers likely have the skills and credentials for jobs. Demand for middle-skilled occupations like plumbers, respiratory therapists and heating and cooling installers are projected to increase 16, 20 and 33 percent respectively between 2008 and 2018. The Indiana Business Research Center reported In Indiana, of the 1.1 million job vacancies projected for the current decade 60 percent will require some postsecondary education, 38 percent requiring an associate degree or more. Middle-skilled jobs require more than a high school education and less than a four year degree.
Morris noted politicians in Indianapolis are projected to spend more than $1 billion in tax cuts for banks and corporations.
“This is a relatively small investment in our most vital asset, working Hoosiers,” said Morris. “If we can afford to fund tax cuts for banks, we can afford to provide skills training for the next generation of Hoosier workers.”
The Industry and Advancement Apprenticeship Promotion event is designed to encourage people to consider paid apprenticeships for a variety of occupations, including welding, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, refrigeration, maintenance, plumbing and pipefitting. The event will be from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday.