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Letter: Put policy to work to tackle skills gap

January 11, 2019

It’s no secret that the biggest challenge facing most employers is finding employees with the right skills. In manufacturing this challenge looms especially large, with the growth of jobs rapidly outpacing available employees.

The 2018 Skills Gap in Manufacturing Study done by Deloitte shows that an estimated 2.4 million manufacturing positions may go unfilled in the next decade. The estimated impact of that shortfall is $2.5 trillion. Here in Indiana, where manufacturing makes up 30 percent of the state’s economy, the skills gap will have long-ranging impact.

So, what can be done? Gov. Holcomb has tackled this issue, offering more employer training grants, making sure funding for career and technical education is more flexible and creating graduation pathways. All of these policies make it easier for employers to help their workers upgrade their skills and for program participants to get coveted credentials.

But policy only goes so far. To be effective, policy must be put into practice. Unfortunately, most employers do not have the resources or expertise to develop training programs that turn out the employees they need.

That’s why in early December the Indiana Manufacturers Association launched a regional manufacturing education initiative working with education partners so classes can be customized and available in the communities where jobs are waiting.

The Indiana Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education, or INFAME, programs will combine classwork and hands-on training. Graduates of the two-year program will earn an associate degree that can move to a bachelor’s degree program and will have two years of relevant, paid job experience. Employers who participate in INFAME have the unique opportunity to help tailor coursework to their needs.

Indiana has always been a state of makers. Now we must make our own solution to the skills gap. Recent policy changes are a big step in the right direction. The IMA is proud to step up with this education initiative that will benefit future employees, employers, the manufacturing industry, and the entire state.

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Brian Burton
President and CEO,

Indiana Manufacturers Association

 

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