Sagamore Institute conference to focus on future of work

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Stephen Goldsmith

As Indiana faces declining college enrollment numbers and slowing population growth, Hoosier leaders from the public, private and philanthropic sectors will gather Tuesday at the NCAA Hall of Champions to discuss how the state can better equip citizens for jobs in high-demand industries.

The theme of the ninth annual Indiana Conference on Citizenship from the Sagamore Institute, an Indianapolis-based public policy think tank is “The Future of Work: Run Don’t Crawl.” It will serve as a launching pad for the not-for-profit organization’s Workforce 2040 initiative, which aims to provide an “adaptive and ongoing analysis” of Indiana’s workforce and make recommendations for achieving economic growth and prosperity.

Former Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith, a professor of urban policy at Harvard University, will deliver the keynote address at Tuesday’s conference and share insights from his book, “Growing Fairly: How to Build Opportunity and Equity in Workforce Development.” Other speakers include Melina Kennedy, CEO of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, and Jason Kloth, president of Ascend Indiana.

A panel of leaders from the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership and the Indiana Chamber will discuss how Indiana’s leading industries are preparing for the future of work and what role employers have in supporting and enabling that transition.

At this year’s event, the Sagamore Institute will give out the inaugural Jerry Semler Corporate Citizenship Award, named after the former OneAmerica CEO and longtime executive at American United Life Insurance Co. who died in July at the age of 86. This year’s recipient is Cook Group, a Bloomington-based medical device manufacturing company.

The event will focus on issues and trends related to the changing realities of work and what the state is doing to prepare employers and workers for jobs in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, fields, as well as health care and other high-demand industries.

“We decided that we really wanted to look strategically at the future of work first, and that would then inform our other two buckets—the future of the workforce and the future of learning,” said Sagamore Institute Director Teresa Lubbers, a former higher education commissioner and Republican member of the Indiana Senate.

The initiative comes as other Indianapolis-based organizations have ramped up efforts to improve workforce development, which remains a top challenge for many Hoosier employers.

In August, the Indiana Chamber launched Indiana Prosperity 2035, offering a vision for bolstering the state’s workforce, education, business climate, infrastructure, quality of place and health.

Last year, TechPoint launched the Mission 41K initiative, which has a goal of adding 41,000 people to Indiana’s tech workforce by 2030.

While Indiana is a leader in the national advanced manufacturing, life sciences and logistics sectors, employers in these industries continue to struggle to find candidates to fill open positions as older workers retire. Indiana had about 80,000 unfilled positions in advanced manufacturing at the end of 2022, according to Conexus Indiana.

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