Marion County workforce development group EmployIndy announced Monday that it has new leadership—and wants to put a renewed focus on collaboration to help residents of Indianapolis’ most underserved neighborhoods.
Angie Carr Klitzsch is EmployIndy’s new president and CEO, and Marie Mackintosh is chief operating officer. Both women joined the organization June 13.
EmployIndy helps youth and adults find jobs and build careers. Before joining the organization, Klitzsch was vice president of global philanthropy at JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Mackintosh comes from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, where she oversaw adult education programming and statewide workforce development strategy.
According to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, Indianapolis had an unemployment rate of 4.5 percent in April, below the statewide average of 4.8 percent.
However, at a press conference Monday, Klitzsch and others spoke of a skills gap that is leaving some Indianapolis residents behind.
“There is disparity of unemployment, and underemployment, in certain ZIP codes and neighborhoods,” Klitzsch said.
Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett echoed that message.
“Good stuff,” Hogsett said of the statistics. “Unfortunately, that number does not paint a full picture of our unemployment situation.”
A person counts as unemployed only if he or she has actively looked for work in the past four weeks. It doesn’t include those who have quit looking for work or who are underemployed.
“There are plenty of people in Indianapolis who have a high school diploma but who do not work at a job that pays a living wage,” Hogsett said.
Employers have jobs to fill, Hogsett said, but many job-seekers don’t have the skills or training required for them. The so-called skills gap is an issue both locally and nationwide.
The problem, Hogsett said, is even more pronounced in certain neighborhoods.
EmployIndy serves all of Marion County, but it will especially target certain neighborhoods and ZIP codes that struggle with high crime rates and poverty.
Those ZIP codes include 46201, IndyEast Promise Zone; 46208, Martin Luther King; 46205, Butler Tarkington; 46218, Martindale-Brightwood; and 46235 on the city's far-east side.
It will also work in other neighborhoods outside of those ZIP codes, said Brian Van Bokkelen, EmployIndy's communications manager.
Hogsett said Indianapolis already has good resources to attack the problem, but he sees “a notable lack of synergy.”
To address that issue, Hogsett said, EmployIndy will collaborate with other local partners including the Indiana Region 5 Works Council, the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership and the Indy Chamber.
By working together, the mayor said, agencies can avoid duplication and break through the “silo” effect that can occur when organizations don’t communicate well with each other.
Monday’s press conference took place at the Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center on Indianapolis’ west side. The center is in another area that EmployIndy and its partners will target.
Clark Lienemann, executive director at Mary Rigg, said unemployment is near 15 percent in the neighborhood the center serves.
Especially since the Great Recession, Lienemann said, employers are looking for skilled and versatile workers. That means workers are shut out if they lack proper training.
“You need more skills and better skills to work,” Lienemann said. “A high school degree alone is not adequate to prepare for the reality of the workplace.”
Lienemann said Mary Rigg already uses a collaborative approach to serve clients, and has seen success with that model.
About 80 percent of the center’s work focuses on empowering students and adults, in part through education and training.