The economy is changing. Businesses and industries are more high-tech, and today’s jobs demand a skill set to match. Going to college or seeking specialized training is quickly becoming a prerequisite to secure well-paying employment.
A recent report from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce suggests that by 2020, 65 percent of all jobs will require postsecondary education and training, up from 28 percent in 1973.
Indiana’s responsible governance and low taxes have helped us attract world-class employers and bring these good jobs to Hoosier communities. Since July 2009 – the low point of employment during the recession – Indiana has added the tenth-most private sector jobs in the nation and second-most manufacturing jobs.
The task now is ensuring Hoosiers are equipped with the skills needed to fill these jobs. Many employers report that they cannot find qualified workers to fill high-demand job openings. One unfilled job is one too many, especially when there are still Hoosiers struggling with unemployment or underemployment.
It’s been our mission at the Statehouse to address this skills gap and provide current and future workers with a bigger, stronger tool box to take on 21st-century jobs.
Last year, Indiana established regional councils to improve job training in our high schools. These councils help make sure career and technical education is offered, and that the training is worthwhile and reflects industry needs. The Indiana Career Council was created at the same time with the mission of coordinating the state’s education and workforce development systems so that they match Indiana’s changing job market.
This year, we directed more funding support for job-training providers that focus on preparing Hoosiers for regionally specific, high-demand, high-wage job fields. These funds will be redirected each year to the training programs that provide the best career results for participants.
Also during the most recent legislative session, lawmakers authorized financial support for schools and businesses that enter into partnerships to offer on-the-job training for students. Employers who hire these students for high-wage, high-demand jobs requiring industry certification can apply for a tax credit.
It’s critical to help ensure that students enter the job market with useful skills, but we also need to reach current workers who are struggling to compete in our globalized economy. For adult Hoosiers without a high school diploma, the unemployment rate is nearly twice the state average.
We’re hoping to increase advancement opportunities for these individuals by creating more schools for adults without a high school diploma, so they can finish their education and remove a barrier to finding work.
Indiana is adapting to the ever-changing global economy and keeping pace with – or outpacing in many cases – not only other states, but other countries. To maintain this momentum, all aspects of the Hoosier economy must be ready to meet these changes head on. Supporting a first-class workforce is job number one.