March 30, 2017
Employers, workforce developers align in Indiana to address workforce skills gap
“Indiana manufacturers, which represent 30 percent of the state’s economy, may not be able to fill 60 percent of their open positions in the next decade,” said Brian Burton, president and CEO of the Indiana Manufactures Association, in a written statement to the state’s General Assembly.
To help address the skills gap, high schools and colleges are adapting their curricula and degree programs to meet the needs of employers. This includes the addition of courses such as industrial maintenance and an emergency medical technician program in area high schools, and the development of a series of ” stackable and portable credentials at the college level. Stackable credentials are credits earned in certificate programs that can be applied to associate degree programs. Credentials can be earned in phases and the student does not have to be continually enrolled in a long-term program. Portable credential means they can be applied at different educational institutions. This allows workers to pursue their education in “manageable chunks” that align with their career stages.
“It is really being driven by jobs that are in demand and will be in the future, and by the specific skill sets required,” said Linda Woloshansky, president of the Center of Workforce Innovations, regarding the transformation of workforce programs in Indiana.
State investment in Indiana’s workforce programs is modest, and interest groups are calling for more. The Indiana Manufacturers Association is one of several organizations that called on the state to provide a tax credit to employers who partner with schools and career centers to offset training expenses. Currently, the Indiana Commission on Higher Education is considering policies that will encourage workers to pursue occupational certifications in sectors like health care and business, which would provide another option to a 2- or 4-year degree.
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