In a world where one of the most innovative forces in the automobile, energy, transportation and even space exploration industries is the guy who invented PayPal (a complete outsider), the usual way of preparing students for tomorrow’s workforce needs to be challenged.

Ivy Tech Community College, the single largest accredited statewide community college system in the U.S., is doing just that — challenging the notions of higher education through new leadership, new programs, and a sole focus on aligning curricula with the workforce needs of Hoosier employers.

In other words, Ivy Tech is a lot more than you think and has a critical role to play in the tech talent pipeline.

Elon Musk may be an extreme example of a non-traditional career path, but his story is a good illustration of how the best ideas need not and do not necessarily come from doing things the way they have always been done.

Sue Ellspermann

Sue EllspermanPresident

“What is clear from the Senate Bill 301 workforce report is that Ivy Tech has a critical role to play in the education and certification of the next generation of skilled workers for Indiana’s highest priority economic sectors, notably including information technology,” Ivy Tech President Dr. Sue Ellspermann said.

“Our highest priority is aligning our post-secondary credentials and degrees with the workforce needs of Indiana employers.”

Former Lt. Governor Ellspermann was selected as Ivy Tech’s new President in May of last year and assumed the role in July. She has extensive educational, private sector, government and workforce development leadership experience, including serving as vice chair of the Indiana Career Council, which worked to align Indiana’s education and workforce development system to meet the needs of employers.

Ellspermann hit the ground running at Ivy Tech. In September she elevated Chris Lowery, acting Vice President for Ivy Tech Corporate College and chancellor of the Columbus and Southeast regions, to the newly created position of Senior Vice President Workforce Alignment. Lowery began implementing recommendations of the Career Council and hiring vice presidents for the five Indiana priority economic sectors of Advanced Manufacturing, Agriculture, Health Sciences, Information Technology, and Supply Chain/Logistics.

Chris Lowery

Chris LowerySVP Workforce Alignment

“Ivy Tech reaches into more communities than any other system in our state. The workforce alignment we have begun and upon which we will continue to execute will have significant implications for the earning power of Hoosiers and the sustained growth of Indiana’s economy,” SVP Lowery said.

“In particular, the Information Technology sector is growing rapidly; and, the need for network and database administrators across all five priority sectors is expanding quickly.”

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Matt Etchison, Ivy Tech’s Vice President of Information Technology, knows a thing or two about the challenges employers face attracting tech talent. Etchison was an IBM Systems Administrator before he joined Interactive Intelligence where he built and led a team of more than 160 engineers and dozens of interns.

Matt Etchison

Matt EtchisonVP Information Technology

“They totally get it,” Etchison said. “My supervisor Chris Lowery and our President Dr. Ellspermann are both supportive of a workforce aligned educational path that ensures our students are learning the best mix of broad-based technical knowledge and partner-specific skills. Such skills will get graduates the jobs they want and fill the tech talent pipeline with the trained and certified workers our state increasingly needs.”

Etchison explained that many people perceive Ivy Tech as a school where people go for a couple years before transferring to a four-year university. Ivy Tech certainly has many transfer degree options as well as a firm commitment to workforce alignment. The majority of students at Ivy Tech are on a workforce preparation path that is absolutely critical to the future of the Indiana economy.

Ivy Tech is aligning everything in its IT certification and training with the heavy hitters in Silicon Valley and Redmond, offering students a good foundation of technical knowledge and on-the-job skills needed to get a good job in the tech industry.

“People have this misconception that a four-year degree is required to be successful in IT and that’s just not the case,” Etchison said. “In fact, Ivy Tech will be supplying a majority of the state’s IT workers in the future. It’s not an either/or situation because we need the full spectrum of educational options firing on all cylinders if we are going to meet the demands of one of the fastest-growing tech hubs in the country — right here in Central Indiana.”

Ivy Tech School of Computing and Informatics currently offers certifications and degree programs in the following areas:

  • Cyber Security – Information Assurance
  • Network Infrastructure
  • Information Technology Support
  • Server Administration
  • Software Development
  • Database Management and Administration
  • Informatics
  • Computer Science
  • Visual Communications

Learn more about the Ivy Tech School of Computing and Informatics.

WATCH VIDEO: TechPoint President Mike Langellier and Ivy Tech VP of Information Technology discussed Indiana’s growing demand for tech talent on Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick.