Report: Need for mid-level job skills is high
Thursday, September 26, 2013 11:00 AM
The largest and fastest-growing segment of Indiana's skills gap comes from middle-skill jobs, those that require at least a high school diploma but less than a four-year college degree, according to a report released this week by the Indiana Skills2Compete Coalition.
The findings were offered at a news conference by coalition co-chairs Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, and Jessica Fraser from the Indiana Institute for Working Families.
The report, as outlined in a story by reporter Sue Carpenter of the Auburn Star, concludes the skills gap is an adult problem that will require adult solutions.
Fraser noted Indiana's unemployment rate is stuck above 8 percent and more than 44 percent of Hoosiers between the ages of 18 and 65 have no post-secondary education at all, meaning that more than 1.8 million Hoosier adults currently lack the skills attainment to be competitive in the workforce.
Middle-skill jobs account for more than 550,000 job openings in Indiana. That's projected to be half of all openings through 2020.
While 54 percent of all jobs in Indiana are classified as middle-skill, only 47 percent of the state's workers have the skills and credentials for the job.
The coalition selected four policy priorities for 2014 that focus on middle-skill attainment for Indiana's adult workers:
Increasing access to financial aid for part-time students.
Continue differentiation of services for students in adult basic education, certain basic skills training, development education, and language acquisition that could be better pursued through adult basic education and community-based agencies.
Maximize on-the-job training opportunities already available through federal funds.
Promote statewide establishment of Prior Learning Assessments for adults with significant work experience, awarding academic credit for meritorious portfolios, accepting transfer academic-credit awarded through rigorous review by other institutions, and encouraging viable candidates to undertake the assessment process.
We're focused on creating new jobs - as we should - but there are plenty of unfilled jobs waiting for workers with the right skills.
None of those recommendations seems too difficult to achieve. Based on the projection that more than half of all job openings can be classified as middle-skill positions there should be a healthy return on any investment.