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Workforce gaps discussed with state official

Workforce gaps discussed with state official
Workforce gaps discussed with state official
Tom Fields, right, Harrison County Economic Development Corp.'s director of communication and business expansion, speaks with Doug Robson, Harrison County Lifelong Learning director, and others Thursday during a workshop with Blair Milo, Secretary for Career Connections and Talent. Photo by Ross Schulz

A group of community leaders gathered Thursday midday with Blair Milo, Indiana’s first Secretary for Career Connections and Talent, at the Harrison County Community Foundation in Corydon.
Milo addressed Gov. Eric Holcomb’s Next Level Agenda for 2018.
In November 2017, Holcomb announced the agenda with a focus on developing a 21st century skilled and ready workforce to sustain prosperity and competitive edge as the world economy changes.
‘Across Indiana, there are currently 92,000 open jobs representing gaps we must close for individuals and employers to benefit,’ Milo said.
Milo said a system needs to be in place to connect workers with opportunity and close the workforce gaps.
To do so, an increase in apprenticeship and work-based learning needs to occur as well as enhanced career navigation support.
The talent system needs to be nimble enough to shift to meet changing needs, she said.
‘Sixty percent of jobs which kids in kindergarten today will be filling don’t yet exist,’ she said.
A couple of programs in Harrison County address the needs Milo discussed.
Tom Fields, Harrison County Economic Development Corp.’s director of communication and business expansion, said the focus right now is the Work Ready Initiative.
The program requires a community-based framework for workforce and economic development that certifies a county as ‘work ready’ when the established goals are met. It was created in response to the need for better information about employability skills and job readiness.
The Work Ready Communities initiative is based on the NCRC, which is a portable, industry-recognized credential that clearly identifies an individual’s ACT WorkKeys skills in reading for information, applied math and locating information, skills required for virtually any job.
Dr. Mark Eastridge, superintendent of the South Harrison Community School Corp., said the college and career readiness program within his corporation provides direction for students. Instead of students heading off to college with no idea what they want to do, this program allows for internships at the high school level at local businesses.
Don Smith, owner of Accu-Chek Inc. in Corydon, said there’s a serious ‘brain drain’ with a lack of young people getting into manufacturing jobs.
Milo’s new cabinet-level position is responsible for connecting Hoosiers with employers and filling the estimated one million job openings expected during the next 10 years in Indiana.
‘Our state’s unemployment rate has reached historically low levels,’ Holcomb said in July while announcing the creation of the position. ‘That means more Hoosiers are working, but it also presents talent challenges for our state’s employers, who need skilled and ready workers to keep their businesses thriving.
‘This new position will provide the urgent and focused attention required to position Indiana well long-term and ensure our state’s workforce is keeping pace with our economy as it grows and becomes more diverse,’ he said. ‘I can think of no one better suited than Blair Milo to lead this charge.’
Milo was elected mayor of La Porte in 2011. She served five years of active duty in the U.S. Navy and was an intern for U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar in Washington, D.C.