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  • III. Operational Planning Elements

    The Unified or Combined State Plan must include an Operational Planning Elements section that supports the State’s strategy and the system-wide vision described in Section II(c) above.  Unless otherwise noted, all Operational Planning Elements apply to Combined State Plan partner programs included in the plan as well as to core programs.  This section must include—

    • a. State Strategy Implementation

      The Unified or Combined State Plan must include–

      • 2. Implementation of State Strategy

        Describe how the lead State agency with responsibility for the administration of each core program or a Combined Plan partner program included in this plan will implement the State’s Strategies identified in Section II(c). above. This must include a description of—

III. a. 2. D. Coordination, Alignment and Provision of Services to Employers

Describe how the entities carrying out the respective core programs, any Combined State Plan partner program included in this plan, required and optional one-stop partner programs will coordinate activities and resources to provide comprehensive, high-quality services to employers to meet their current and projected workforce needs and to achieve the goals of industry or sector partners in the state.  The activities described shall conform to the statutory requirements of each program.

Current Narrative:

In order to create a more robust talent development system and advance our populous towards economic mobility, Indiana must foster impactful relationships between businesses, community partners, and government agencies. We have successfully attracted and supported businesses of all sizes to our state, but we need to deepen our current partnerships with engaged businesses and expand our outreach to involve more businesses to ensure we keep up with the rapid pace of global change. Successful business engagement must deliver value to employers, which will require our talent development programs to be more accessible and user-friendly. We must also start to engage with businesses holistically, rather than focusing solely on their current needs and find ways to diversify hiring practices. Our ultimate goal is to change the culture of how employers play a role and invest in their own workforce development as opposed to the government steering and telling employers what to do. Our engagement practices will shift employers from simply being the customers of the workforce system to active participants in the creation and implementation of workforce development and wraparound service solutions.

The importance of building better connections to employers and addressing the changing nature of work initiated the creation of the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet (GWC) Industry Committee. Committee members bring experience and perspective from across a number of sectors, including state agencies (Department of Workforce Development, Family and Social Services Administration, Commission for Higher Education, and Department of Corrections), GWC members, business representatives, education representatives, Ivy Tech Community College, Vincennes University, Purdue University, local workforce boards, and other stakeholders. The Committee developed the following priorities to strengthen the partnership and services provided to employers that will enhance the lives of those working today and drive positive outcomes for future occupations. These priorities include:

  1. New training and technical assistance for Workforce Development Boards and staff for a better employer experience for employers of every size.
  2. Identifying and highlighting community partnerships for employers to engage with the talent development system.
  3. Expanding the reach and connection to apprenticeships and other work-based learning experiences.
  4. Assisting Hoosier small businesses and entrepreneurs to thrive in our increasingly global economy.
  5. Leveraging economic and employer data to address current and future needs.
  6. Modifying resources and tools based on employer feedback to provide a better user experience.
  7. Promoting talent diversity and non-traditional hiring practices.


  1. New training and technical assistance for workforce staff and workforce boards for a better employer experience for employers of every size. An immediate priority is to develop new training and technical assistance for local Workforce Development Boards and workforce staff. A better understanding of all resources – whether those are provided by the WIOA core programs and are offered within our WorkOnes, state funded programs, such as NextLevel Jobs, or other services funded by Partner Programs – will allow local workforce staff to better connect resources and programs to the individuals they serve and employers in their communities based upon the particular needs of each. All staff, regardless of their role, need to be well-versed in the leading industry sectors in their region and the resources available to help employers develop the talent they need. Specific board training will be created for the workforce board members and staff to enhance knowledge, duties, and understanding of their responsibilities as it relates to how the talent development system can connect with employers.

Development of this training will be led by the Department of Workforce Development with input from the GWC, other state agencies, local boards, and employers as a priority. The training will minimally focus on raising awareness and understanding of the following:

  • Workforce programs outside of WIOA:
    • Workforce Ready Grants, a state program through Next Level Jobs, will pay the tuition and mandatory feesfor eligible high-value certificate programs at Ivy Tech Community College, Vincennes University, or other approved providers. The grant is available for two years and covers up to the number of credits required by the qualifying program. The qualifying high-value certificate programs were selected based on employer demand, wages, job placements and program completion rate. These programs are aligned with Indiana’s highest demand sectors:
      • Advanced Manufacturing
      • Building & Construction
      • Health Sciences
      • IT & Business Services
      • Transportation & Logistics
  • Employer Training Grants: Under these grants, employers may qualify for reimbursement of up to $5,000 per employee trained and retained for six months. Each employer may qualify for up to $50,000 per employer. Employers must submit an application, satisfy eligibility requirements and receive and sign a formal agreement obligating grant funding. Employers must offer occupational skills training directly correlated with in-demand jobs in our six high-growth job fields (Advanced Manufacturing, Agriculture, IT & Business Services, Building & Construction, Health & Life Sciences, and Transportation & Logistics). The training must be greater than 40 hours and ideally result in a stackable certificate or credential upon completion (onboarding training and informal job shadowing does not qualify). Additionally, the employer must ensure a wage gain at the completion of training for current employees trained to new skill sets; there is no current wage requirement for new hires trained. Employer Training Grants receive $20 million in funding through the state’s budget.
  • Funding for work-based learning:
    • The Employer Aid Readiness Network (EARN) Indiana is an experiential learning internship program administered by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education (CHE) in partnership with Indiana INTERNnet (IIN), which is administered by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. It is designed to provide financial assistance to employers who provide paid internships for qualified Hoosier students currently enrolled full- or part-time in a postsecondary education program.[1]
      • Employer Training Grants are also available to help fund work-based learning programs for high school students. If a student earns an industry-recognized credential, the employer is eligible for $1,000 reimbursement to offset any costs, including wages. As schools increase their work-based learning programs, Workforce Development Boards can facilitate partnerships with employers to use this grant to cover any expenses from providing these experiences to at-risk youth, in particular.
      • Under Vocational Rehabilitation, Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) funding for students with disabilities ages 14 to 22 can assist with developing, expanding, or enhancing in-school, after school, or summer work experience opportunities. These funds can potentially provide students competitive wages or training stipends for work performed during an employment experience.
      • Using AE funds, Hoosiers without a diploma or deficient in basic skills can enroll in basic skill and/or English Learner classes at employer sites through the Workforce Education Initiative. This allows the Hoosier to be employed and earning an income and able to improve his/her academic skills. It combines education, provided through AE, and employment at a site convenient for the individual. Often, the individual can earn a short-term certificate (e.g., NIMS Level I, Comp TIA A+, or Entry Level AWS) that can be stacked toward more advanced certification and professions. We currently have about 75 employers participating, including some larger employers, like Tyson Foods.
  • Postsecondary financial aid:
    • The Adult Student Grant is part of Indiana's You Can. Go Back. program. It offers a renewable $2,000 grant to assist returning adult students in starting or completing an postsecondary credential. To qualify, students must be financially independent as determined by the FAFSA, demonstrate financial need, and be enrolled in at least six credit hours.
  • Potential tax credits:
    • To help more businesses begin to hire and retain this target population, our business services team can help increase Hoosier employers using the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC). The WOTC reduces employer cost by providing federal tax credit for private, for-profit employers to encourage hiring of individuals from our target populations. The credit is 25% of qualified first year wages for those employed at least 120 hours and 40% for those employed 400 hours or more.  Employers maintain all hiring decisions and there is no limit to the number of new hires who can qualify for the tax savings. Employers can hire eligible employees from the following target groups for the WOTC:
      • A TANF or SNAP recipient,
      • A qualified veteran;
      • Ex-felon;
      • A resident of a designated community;
      • A referral from Vocational Rehabilitation;
      • Summer Youth Employee;
      • A recipient of Supplemental Security Income;
      • Long-Term Family Assistance Recipient; and
      • Qualified Long-Term Unemployment Recipient.
    • The Federal Bonding Program coverage is also available for individuals based on their history to assist in easing the concern of an employer by covering the potential or estimated risk to the employer for financial loss.
    • The ArchitecturalBarrier Removal Tax Credit or the Disabled Tax Credit can encourage employers to hire individuals from this target group, as well as help offset any employer costs for accommodations. The Disabled Access Credit provides a non-refundable credit of up to $5,000 for small businesses that incur expenditures for the purpose of providing access to persons with disabilities. The Architectural Barrier Removal Tax Deduction encourages businesses of any size to remove architectural and transportation barriers to the mobility of persons with disabilities and the elderly. Businesses may claim a deduction of up to $15,000 a year for qualified expenses for items that normally must be capitalized. Businesses may use the Disabled Tax Credit and the architectural/transportation tax deduction together in the same tax year, if the expenses meet the requirements of both sections.[2] In addition to the intangible benefits of hiring with individuals with disabilities, promoting these tax credits may alleviate some consternation employers may have regarding costs. In addition to creating greater awareness and understanding of accommodation costs, our business teams can help employers take advantage of federal tax credits which will help assuage any uncertainty.
  • Available tools and resources:
    • Credential Engine’s Credential Registry is a database that captures, connects, and makes searchable critical information about all kinds of credentials: from degrees to certificates, badges to micromasters, apprenticeships to employer training programs, and certifications to licenses. The organization obtains this information under agreements with colleges, certification bodies, industry associations, and other credentialing and quality assurance organizations. The Credential Finder is a search app that accompanies the Registry. It enables employers, students, career counselors and others to find credentials of interest and compare them along many dimensions. When considering hundreds of thousands of the credentialing options facing an individual, having a constituent or case manager use this tool will help determine valuable options.
    • Additional resources through the Indiana State Chamber of Commerce and its newly formed Institute for Workforce Excellence are dedicated to helping businesses attract, develop, and retain the talent that will drive a highly skilled and productive workforce. The Institute brings together tools and resources to assist employers in building their talent pipeline. The Institute coordinates a variety of existing programs and has identified potential areas of focus to include apprenticeships, talent assessment, employer learning networks and more. The importance of the Institute is further demonstrated by the results of the Indiana Chamber Foundation’s 2019 annual employer workforce survey. Almost half (49%) of survey respondents left jobs unfilled in the past year due to underqualified applicants and nearly three-quarters (73%) cite filling their workforce needs as a significant challenge. A majority (58%) have not partnered with education institutions or other workforce training providers to develop talent and only half are working with K-12 schools on career awareness efforts. Now is more important than ever to create synergy to reinforce and champion the services and opportunities provided through the local workforce system. By business advocacy organizations, state and local workforce development organizations, and other stakeholders increasing their collaboration, state and local government can help employers and Hoosiers be competitive in an economy that increasingly needs more diversified skills and digital literacy.  

Our primary strategy is to increase the number of businesses engaging with and utilizing the talent development system as a whole by 25% each year (or approximately 100 businesses). Additionally, over the next fiscal year, state agencies will analyze our business engagement data (including Business Awareness, Business Penetration, and Business Retention) to understand the effectiveness of current outreach strategies. Indiana must also develop a common methodology and processes for tracking these data. Our objective is to cultivate, in partnership with businesses, strategies for investments into workforce solutions and talent development, as well as the recruitment and retention of talent. It is more important than ever to create synergy to reinforce and champion the excellent services and opportunities provided through the local workforce system. That starts with creating better awareness of the services that the system as a whole can provide employers. Having staff that is cross-trained to understand the plethora of programs offered across the talent system as a whole will help local staff connect employers to the services they need.

As Indiana’s economy and talent pipelines continually evolve, we need our employers to start implementing non-traditional hiring practices. The practices include recruiting, attracting, and retaining individuals from any of our target populations that have historically faced barriers to sustainable employment. These untapped populations present great upskilling and reskilling potential to help fill Indiana’s current and future job openings. In order to meet the demand for employees, Indiana’s businesses must look to those populations that have traditionally overlooked. Additionally, as we scale models similar to the My Cook Pathway through WorkINdiana, we need our employers to understand that these are not merely philanthropic or corporate social responsibility activities. This program assists employers in building pathways to help their current and potential employees earn an HSE and improve their academic skills in an AE classroom while earning a career certification. Governor Holcomb is working with the Indiana General Assembly to potentially redefine this funding to assist employers with providing wraparound supports – such as career coaches, mentors, tutors, and other expenses – employees may need to successfully this program. These are ways to develop sustainable talent with industry-relevant, up-to-date skills and knowledge embedded.

2. Identifying and highlighting community partnerships for employers to engage with talent development system. As employers seek to make the most of automation for innovation and capacity, they will also need to manage complex transitions. The challenges will vary depending on the nature, mix, and geographic footprint of their workforces.[3] Regions and local communities will need to prepare for positive change, focusing on job matching and mobility, skills and training, economic development and job creation, and support for workers in transition. Understanding the resources available and the talent pipeline within the workforce region and across the state will be crucial for employers as they evaluate their transitional needs as technology and globalization continues to transform the way work is performed. Local workforce boards, employer engagement teams, local economic development partners, and our education and training providers need to be aware of employers’ needs so we continue to have a talent development system that is responsive and thrives in the face of these changes.
Local Workforce Development Boards will be a key partner in an ever changing economy for employers. Local Boards in Indiana are led by a staff executive and other key staff positions and governed by an appointed volunteer chair and other volunteer members consisting of business, education, labor, community, faith-based, and economic development leaders responsible for the strategic vision of workforce development and governance. The Boards operate the WorkOne and provide employer services. They drive local implementation of the workforce system, and their connection to employers is essential to set the right vision for the unique needs of the local talent development system. Local Boards must connect with multiple resources and communicate frequently with local economic development and chamber teams in order to acknowledge the specific needs for a local area. 
In order to develop effective links with employers in regions to support employer utilization of the workforce development system and to support local workforce investment activities, the Boards must ensure they are collaborating with other local partners to fully comprehend all resources available to meet employer needs. The workforce system alone cannot meet the needs of a region. It is only when collaboration across the entire talent development and social services systems exist that employers and Hoosiers will be best served. Additionally, Workforce Development Boards might preference delving into deep relationships with those offering middle-wage positions, on-the-job training options, or additional wraparound supports. Urban areas, in particular, could err on the side of fewer, but deeper, relationships with employers, rather than more superficial relationships with a greater breadth of businesses. We should prioritize the quality of the relationship and services provided to the businesses before pursuing quantity. Because urban areas have the latter in abundance, ensuring the former is met will be a critical aspect of their business services.
One of the ways that Indiana can provide more opportunities for collaboration between local workforce boards and other regional initiatives is through the 21st Century Talent Regions initiative. This partnership includes an exciting way to produce the data necessary to evaluate and acknowledge future needs for local economic growth. 21st Century Talent Regions are local collaboratives that commit to using a systems approach to attract, develop, and connect Hoosier talent. Regions are self-defined with regard to their geography and are working toward building and implementing a plan to increase educational attainment, raise household income, and grow population. For a community to become a 21st Century Talent Region, it must complete a set of required steps leading up to the designation. Each potential region must commit to working across geographic lines and across partner organizations to attract, develop, connect and retain talent. The 21st Century Talent Region must organize itself with a designated leader and regional participation including, but not limited to: local governments, businesses, K-12 education, economic development, higher education, non-profit(s), and local Workforce Development Boards. In collaboration with the state and with technical assistance provided by CivicLab, the region must build a plan to grow its population (attract and retain talent), increase its educational attainment (develop talent), and raise household income (connect talent). After building a collaborative talent plan, a region must implement the priorities identified. Following this implementation, a region will receive a 21st Century Talent Region designation.
A 21st Century Talent Region commits to a comprehensive and systems approach to:

  • Attracting Talent: Leveraging the power of place to grow the population of the region; Developing Talent: Building a home-grown learning system to cultivate talent and increase educational attainment;
  • Connecting Talent: Coordinating talent with equitable economic opportunities to raise household income and earnings; and
  • Systems-Building and Equity Focused: Working across the public, private and social sectors to develop a comprehensive talent approach while focusing on equitable outcomes for all.

The region develops a stakeholder engagement map and a regional dashboard to continue their work beyond their designation.  Additional information on materials developed can be found here: https://www.in.gov/cct/files/21st%20Century%20Talent%20Regions%20Briefing%20Document.pdf

Additionally, external partners can provide critical workforce supports. Navigating the myriad of workforce support structures, let alone administering various aspects of training or social supports, is often an extremely daunting task for employers, particularly small and medium-sized businesses who lack the manpower to put towards these initiatives. Throughout Indiana’s communities and regions are a variety of potential partners in the non-profit, workforce development, education and training, and others that are skilled in providing social and educational services to support the talent needed by employers.  Regular communication and collaboration amongst these community partners, coordinated in partnership with local workforce boards, allows employers to inform the types of training necessary as well as the necessary community services in an effective and efficient manner.

A few of these external partners include:

EcO (Southeast Indiana): The Economic Opportunities (EcO) Network is made up of education, community foundation, industry (including more than one hundred manufacturers and all seven hospitals), workforce, government, and community leaders from a 10-county region in southeast Indiana.   The network works together to serve the collective good in order to accomplish their three goals: 

  • Move residents up at least one level in their education, training, and/or job placement,
  • Coordinate and align a regional learning system, and
  • Be a catalyst for regional leadership and collaboration.

Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership: Comprised of business and community leaders from across an 11-county region, the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership builds, markets, and sells the region to increase business investment.  In addition to serving as a conduit to nine higher education partners in the region, the Regional Partnership provides a variety of services to support the business community including confidential project management, customized site tours, connections to regional political, business and community decision makers; and more, alleviating the burden on the business to navigate the myriad of partners to create collective opportunity

ROI (Southwest Central Indiana): The mission of Regional Opportunity Initiatives, Inc. (ROI) is to support economic and community prosperity in the 11 counties of Southwest Central Indiana. Through an initial $25,870,000 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., ROI is implementing education and workforce initiatives and strategies for quality of place development.

Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning (CELL): Created in 2001, CELL at the University of Indianapolis efforts are rooted in the principle that all students, regardless of background, should graduate from high school prepared for postsecondary education, training, and success in the 21st-century global economy. With primary funding from Lilly Endowment Inc., CELL has leveraged resources to unite schools, communities and businesses to make substantial, sustainable, statewide education change to improve academic success for Hoosier students and strengthen the quality of life and economic development in Indiana. A CELL initiative, Education Workforce Innovation Network (EWIN) strategically supports all Indiana regions to meet the state’s workforce needs. EWIN facilitates the development of education, community and business partnerships, which then collaboratively design local career pathways systems. These pathways help students become college and career ready and also drive design of curricular programs grounded in the real world. EWIN helps engage businesses in K-16 learning experiences and provide the local workforce with highly skilled employees.

Indiana Manufacturing Competitiveness Center (IN-MaC): IN-MaC is housed within Purdue University. IN-MaC looks to create a stronger, more competitive manufacturing ecosystem for Indiana and the nation. This is done by mobilizing its resources, expertise and network to strengthen the relationship between workforce education, technology adoption, and manufacturing research to elevate Indiana as the manufacturing destination of choice. We will look to continue to strengthen the relationship between the Cabinet, IN-MaC, and other key organizations within the manufacturing sector such as Conexus and the Indiana Manufacturers Association. Modeling this type of collaboration at the state level, will only help further demonstrate to local communities the value in partnering to find solutions to the state’s workforce needs.

Ivy Tech Community College: Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana’s community college, the largest single-accredited statewide community college in the nation serving nearly 100,000 credit-bearing students, over 60,000 dual credit students, and more than 10,000 participants annually in employer-specific non-credit training at 18 campuses and more than 40 locations across Indiana. In 2016 the college implemented robust supply and demand analyses to bring focus to workforce aligned programming. Each campus aligns its programming to high-demand credentials including industry-recognized certifications and credit-bearing certificates, technical certificates, associate and transfer degrees.  This work has increased the Ivy Tech’s completions from approximately 20,000 in 2016 to more than 35,000 credentials awarded in 2019.  This work is informed by both quantitative and qualitative sources including EMSI data and input at each campus from local employer advisory boards.  The goal is to have 80% of Ivy Tech programs at relative equilibrium (supply matched to local demand on each campus) within 5 years.

In 2015, Ivy Tech and Old National Bank developed the signature Achieve Your Degree (AYD) program, designed to skill up frontline workers (tellers, CSR’s, and non-degreed personnel).  This innovative program offers many benefits to both students and employers. AYD 1) removes financial barriers through tuition deferral, 2) provides high-touch student support through a concierge model with employer onsite assistance and intensive advising, 3) leverages employer tuition dollars through utilization of federal and state financial aid, and 4) supports completions in programs of student relevant to the employer’s workforce needs. Since the program’s inception in 2016, 3,490 students have enrolled in the AYD program and earning 804 degrees and other credentials. AYD credentials are concentrated in high-demand sectors, with the highest percentage (31%) awarded in business logistics and supply chain. Ivy Tech has more than 200 AYD employer partners and is co-branding with the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and others to aggressively expand AYD over the next several months.

Building on AYD expansion efforts, the Chamber and other partners including DWD are helping the College engage employers and adult students more effectively through an increased focus on talent pipeline development. A key strategy is to create and utilize a comprehensive ROI toolset aimed toward specific stakeholders including employers, employee-students, communities, and investors (government and philanthropy). These efforts are helping create a collective impact strategy to braid together, leverage, and deploy our resources to the benefit of Hoosiers. An additional strategy is around better coordination and utilization of technology platforms with a focus on integrating case management, career exploration and clarity tools, and data analytics to inform continuous improvement.

Vincennes University: Vincennes University (VU) was Indiana’s first college in 1801 by William Henry Harrison. VU is state-supported with campuses in Vincennes and Jasper and additional sites such as Indianapolis, Lebanon, and Gibson County. VU is a leader in developing Early Colleges in partnership with high schools statewide. VU provides another partner and resource for employers as they consider the skills needed by their workforce. One such example of this is through the Automation and Robotics Academy in Dubois County. The Academy serves as an introduction to Advanced Manufacturing and robotics, giving students a solid base of preparation should they decide to go directly into the workforce. It also serves as a great foundation for VU’s Career Advancement Partnership (CAP) program, which started in 2014. CAP is a work-based learning partnership in industrial maintenance with several Dubois County area employers that is similar to the Toyota AMT program. The ARA is hosted on the VU Jasper campus, in partnership with the four county school corporations and the Patoka Valley Career Cooperative. Students participating in this program earn dual credit and have internship opportunities with the local employers.

Connecting Indiana’s community college system and universities with the local workforce system is now more important than ever. Indiana will work to partner with these institutions, so college and university team members participate and meet regularly with the designated local workforce staff to foster a greater understanding of the educational and skill development programs needed by employers. This can also reduce and align some of the local business conversations to increase participation, reduce redundant meetings, and excite local employers about the work being done with partners across the talent development system. Since the State Workforce Board is now the state federal Perkins authority, we have an opportunity to bring together secondary and postsecondary Perkins recipients and employers to better align educational outcomes with employer needs. This provides us with a unique opportunity to be more proactive in addressing future skills gaps before they become an issue. By identifying employer’s future needs, we can tailor learning outcomes for both short-term, one year and less, and long-term, one to three year, career and technical education programs to align the skills of our talent pool to those that employers will need once those individuals complete their education and training programs. The GWC can address statewide skill gaps in this manner, while providing opportunities to support local boards to serve as conveners for regional education partners and employers to embed regional skill needs within the curriculum.

Local workforce boards and staff must further their efforts to have better communication with employers through sector partnerships so there is an awareness in the business community of the resources available to help boost the local economy.

 3. Expanding the reach and connection to apprenticeships and additional work-based learning experiences. Significantly increasing work-based learning and apprenticeship opportunities is necessary for career exploration and providing real-world experiences. These are activities that will allow those in our target populations to gain knowledge, skills, and experience as they earn an income, thus alleviating the education and life expenses tug-of-war that prevents individuals from pursuing educational opportunities.
Seamlessly integrating the full work-based learning continuum into the Indiana talent development system will allow for both businesses and constituents to find sustainable success. We have recently started emphasizing work-based learning experiences in the high school space, as well as vertically aligning elementary and middle schools experiences with the work-based learning continuum. Students now have more opportunities to engage, explore, and experience career options.[4] As these opportunities continue to grow for our students, we must also ensure that a comparable work-based learning system for adults is also expanded.
These experiences can include:

  • Talent tours;[5]
  • Career fairs;
  • Informational interviews with local employers;
  • Job shadow experiences;
  • Virtual exchanges with a business partner;
  • State Earn and Learn programs;[6]
  • A pre-apprenticeship or apprenticeship-readiness program;[7]
  • Paid internships;
  • Transitional jobs; and
  • On-the-job training.

Rather than only focusing on traditional work-based learning experiences, employers can also offer the following less conventional approaches:

  • Mentoring and shadowing: Experts within a company can formally or informally help new hires or incumbent workers master important skills.
  • Virtual or online learning: These learning opportunities allow employees to train from home, rather than forcing everyone to gather on-site for training sessions.
  • Microlearning and microinternships: This form of learning involves boosting employees’ understanding of a particular program or topic through modules or compact experiences.
  • Lunch-and-learn sessions: During these sessions, you can provide lunch for your employees and invite an expert from outside the company to share expertise on a particular subject.

Hoosier workforce regions have utilized work-based learning models for many years. On-the-job and customized trainings have been widely used and have been demonstrated to be very effective tools. Indiana’s policies are developed to ensure that our providers continually evaluate and improve their work and learn strategies. Specifically, Indiana’s workforce partners are required to review all work and learn programs with each company to ensure that the training received truly provides a high quality experience for the participant and helps them either advance at that company or pursue work at another company. Additionally, Indiana’s policies require a review of the employment and advancement trends at employers that utilize the work and learn models to ensure that participants are completing the training, getting employed and then persisting in that employment.

In order to accelerate the growth the full continuum of work-based learning experiences, the Office of Work-Based Learning and Apprenticeship (OWBLA) was established by Governor Holcomb’s Executive Order in March 2018. This office resides within the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, and works collaboratively across a number of state and local partners including: the Department of Education, Commission for Higher Education, Governor’s Workforce Cabinet, local secondary and postsecondary institutions, local workforce boards, USDOL, and employers.

OWBLA’s primary goals are to coordinate efforts and partner with the U.S. Department of Labor (U.S. DOL) to expand registered apprenticeships, develop flexible and scalable programs that focus on the state’s key economic sectors and regional high-wage, high-demand occupations, and build public-private partnerships to increase business and industry engagement with education systems. The following entities have been awarded a 2019 U.S. DOL State Apprenticeship Expansion Grant:

  • Hamilton Heights School Corporation/Indiana Construction Roundtable Foundation
    Building & Construction
  • Ivy Tech Community College/Hoosier Hills Career Center: Building & Construction, IT & Business Services, Advanced Manufacturing
  • Indiana Plan for Equal Employment, Inc.: Building & Construction
  • Perry Central Community School Corporation: Advanced Manufacturing, Health & Life Sciences
  • Region 10 Workforce Board, Inc.: Advanced Manufacturing, Health & Life Sciences, Transportation & Logistics
  • Trilogy Health Services, LLC, Health & Life Sciences

The Office of Work-Based Learning and Apprenticeship has developed a scalable framework for state level apprenticeship programs, entitled State Earn and Learn (SEAL). The SEAL model strategically incorporates Related Instruction, On the Job Training, and Rewards for Skill Gain, all leading to an Industry Recognized Certification and developing a highly trained employee to fill the talent pipeline for Hoosier employers. These models are easily scaled across the state, and have been developed for both the youth and adult populations. The state is actively involved in continuous evaluation and updating of its full strategy for the implementation of registered apprenticeships throughout the state. Over the next year or so, OWBLA will look at creating State Earn and Learns targeted for specific populations, like seniors, and in partnership with other workforce programs, like Adult Education and Perkins.

DWD and the Governor's Workforce Cabinet plan to continue to engage partners in the development of strategies, frameworks, and models to best implement work-and-learn experiences as a part of the state strategies, including continuing to elevate the importance of work-and-learn models. By partnering with employers and sector organizations to mitigate employer challenges and to determine best practices, the state will be able to generate employer support for broader participation statewide. This model also provides employers the opportunity to establish connections directly with potential employees by using this evidence-based approach to career readiness.

Indiana is working to increase and improve the work-and-learn models deployed throughout the state. Indiana has a high number of existing USDOL registered apprenticeships and with the partnership between USDOL and OWBLA continuing to grow, we will only increase the opportunities for companies to develop and implement apprenticeship models to create robust talent pipelines. The state continues to work with the USDOL Office of Apprenticeship in Indiana to coordinate information, expansion and eligibility of apprenticeships in Indiana. Further development of registered apprenticeships will play an increasingly important role with businesses across all industries by providing a pipeline of skilled workers to help them remain competitive. Many employers are increasing their use of registered apprenticeships as a “grow your own” strategy to increase and diversify their pipeline of skilled workers. This proven workforce strategy offers apprentices opportunities to earn a salary while they learn the skills employers demand in a variety of occupations.

Indiana has over 1,000 active apprenticeship programs and had nearly 17,000 active apprentices in FY 2018.[8] Indiana is one of the largest apprenticeship states in the nation based on size and number of programs available. Indiana is also one of the top states in terms of completions. Yet, like the rest of the nation, Indiana currently lacks much needed diversity in terms of ethnicity, gender, socio-economic status, and business sector roles.

DWD received both the ApprenticeshipUSA State Accelerator Grant and the ApprenticeshipUSA State Expansion Grant in order to grow and increase apprenticeships throughout the state. Through the support of these grants the DWD has worked with Indiana’s USDOL Office of Apprenticeships and other key stakeholders to:

  • Identify ways to integrate registered apprenticeship into state education and workforce systems (i.e. WIOA),
  • Engage industry and other partners to expand apprenticeship to new sectors, such as IT, healthcare, cybersecurity and business services and to new non-traditional populations at scale, including through career and technical education programs of study design,
  • Conduct outreach and work with employers to start other new, quality work-based learning programs,
  • Identify ways to promote greater inclusion and diversity in apprenticeship such as sub-grants with The Indiana Plan LLC,
  • Conduct research on youth apprenticeship models,
  • Incorporate Registered Apprenticeship programs on to the state Education, Training and Provider List (ETPL), and
  • Create a state apprenticeship model (SEALs).

In order to provide alignment with the workforce system, the regional Workforce Development Boards will serve as Registered Apprenticeship Intermediaries that assist in the expansion and facilitation of all Registered Apprenticeship programming across the state. Indiana will continue to expand Registered Apprenticeship programs as well as the number of apprentices enrolled in these programs. In further support of its state plan goals and strategies, Indiana will also continue to expand the opportunities for students to participate in programs that lead to Registered Apprenticeship while earning high school credit toward graduation. This is feasible because of a number of key policies enacted in recent years including Graduation Pathways, Indiana’s new graduation requirements, and the CTE program of study realignment.

The Industry Committee was also able to explore the economic and training advantages of apprenticeships through a review of the Local 150 Apprenticeship model. This review demonstrated how apprenticeships prepare workers for good careers while meeting the needs of businesses who want to connect with the talent development system. Local 150 Operating Engineers operate heavy construction equipment, earth moving equipment, and road construction equipment. The key for this apprenticeship program’s success is the employer-driven model.

The Purdue Cyber Apprenticeship Program (P-CAP), is an excellent example to the employer-driven model. P-CAP is a scalable cyber apprenticeship program aims to create a steady pipeline of skilled workers to both address workforce shortages and create a successful pathway to high-paying jobs for participants in cyber fields. P-CAP blends the traditional apprenticeship program with a college education, creating a new way to earn-and-learn for the 21st century. [9]

Apprenticeships help businesses develop highly-skilled employees, reduce turnover rates, increase productivity, and ease the burden of recruitment. According to the USDOL, 91% of apprentices that complete an apprenticeship are still employed nine months later.[10] The employer-led nature of apprenticeships ensures alignment between the education and training components of the program with industry standards and needs. Local workforce boards and other community stakeholders can help scale similar models by serving as conveners to bring together the necessary education and industry partners to ensure program alignment. There are a number of strategies being deployed across the state that will provide best practices to learn from and build upon that will allow for the creation of even more opportunities in both traditional and non-traditional apprenticeable occupations.

Indiana values the connection to real-world experiences and setting students up for success as is evident with the creation of Graduation Pathways in Indiana high schools, which now requires students to have a project-, service-, or work-based learning experience prior to high school graduation. The Commission for Higher Education (CHE) also plays a significant role in the creation of quality career-connected experiences for students. CHE’s strategic plan outlines that 100% of postsecondary programs will be required to have an internship, work-based learning, research project, or other student engagement experience that has career relevance. The ever growing opportunity for the local workforce partners to collaborate and connect education with employment opportunities is going to ensure Indiana’s talent development system is primed and ready for a diverse economy. 

4. Assisting Hoosier small businesses and entrepreneurs to thrive in our increasingly global economy. Entrepreneurs and small businesses are the backbone of a strong economy. Local Workforce Development Boards must aware of these types of employers within their community and have the resources to help support small businesses and entrepreneurs overcome some of the hurdles that exist as a result of having a small staff or starting a new company. Understanding the resources available for these types of employers and how these business can connect to the talent development system as well as engage with industry leaders is something in which WorkOne staff must be trained.   

Local Boards and staff need to know how to connect with local economic development teams and Indiana Small Business Development Centers (ISBDC). ISBDCs work to support the formation, growth and sustainability of small businesses in Indiana. The ISBDC is a collaborative partnership between the Small Business Administration (SBA), the IEDC, and the 10 host institutions scattered across the state who support ISBDC’s ten regional offices. In 2018 alone, the ISBDC and Indiana Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) helped launch more than 300 small businesses and create more than 1,500 new jobs. The ISBDC helps entrepreneurs looking to start or grow a business by providing resources, including expert guidance and market research.

Access to broadband is essential in our rural areas – both for individuals and businesses. While individuals can use greater connectivity for upskilling and training purposes, broadband presents entrepreneurial opportunities for small Hoosier businesses. Small businesses can use technology to grow their economic reach and business models by creating a new entry into marketing and sales. Especially in our rural communities, broadband connectivity can help small businesses grow enormously. Small businesses can also use the internet to help connect with a great variety of talent through remote work possibilities. The value of broadband, however, is not realized unless an individual or a business can use the infrastructure. As we expand broadband into our rural areas, these efforts must be accompanied with strategies to grow digital literacy in our small and rural businesses so they can take advantage of this technology to grow economic opportunities. Business service teams can connect WIOA Titles I or II to small business owners to help develop digital literacy skills and how to stand and expand their businesses in this digital world. While it is crucial that we develop a talent force that has high digital literacy skills, we must ensure that the businesses receiving these individuals are similarly digitally literate and able to capitalize on the economic opportunities broadband offers.

Skillful Indiana also assists workforce boards in reaching employers to provide technical assistance for employers of any size, but can be a key asset to smaller companies who need practical tools to connect Hoosiers to good jobs in a changing economy. Skillful Indiana was founded with support provided by Walmart, and in partnership with Lumina Foundation, Purdue University and Purdue Extension. Skillful Indiana helps people identify high-demand jobs and the skills they need to fill them, and helps employers find and keep the talent they need to grow; strengthen the skills of career advisors across the state; and collaborate with local workforce development boards to support Hoosiers and Indiana businesses. Working with employers to expand their understanding of the specific skills necessary for the occupations they have and deepening their talent pool of qualified candidates provides another leverage point for local workforce boards to connect employers to resources they might need.

In addition to cultivating multi-stakeholder collaboration through the 21st Century Talent Regions initiative, Indiana is developing a statewide, collaborative “network of networks” that includes regional and state level partner organizations focused on equity-based talent attraction, development and connection work known as the Indiana Talent Network (ITN).

ITN brings together geographically self-defined networks comprised of public, private, and social sector leaders from education, business, social service, government, economic development, and workforce organizations as well as state-level government agencies and the philanthropic community. The Network seeks to develop a comprehensive talent approach, focusing on equitable outcomes for all people, and using stakeholder engagement and systems-building tools and frameworks to ensure a common language and common approach to continuous improvement of ITN and its partners over the long-term.  ITN began in 2015 as the Indiana Educational Attainment Network, consisting of four regions of the state organized to support Lumina Foundation’s Goal 2025, targeting 60% of the adult population with a two-year, four-year or certificate by the year 2025. The group meets quarterly to discuss each region's work and how the group might work collectively in a few key areas including serving traditional age college students, adults with some college no degree, and adults with no college, while also impacting policy at the local and State level with data sharing and dashboards.


5. Leveraging economic and employer data to address current and future needs and assisting Hoosiers in developing valuable skills. Research and Analysis staff at the Indiana Department of Workforce Development have developed regional dashboards for workforce and economic development partners to access. The Management Performance Hub (MPH) also helps stakeholders identify and analyze data sets that are necessary to understanding the intersection between the education, workforce development, and social service systems. Creating more awareness around these resources so local boards have all of the data and tools available to understand the unique needs within each region will be a key priority for the GWC throughout the implementation of this plan.
An analysis of our current labor market data show that Indiana is preparing to fill more than 1 million jobs in the next 10 years, with 700,000 jobs opening as baby boomers (people born between 1946 and 1964) retire and another 300,000 new jobs from growing or new business attraction. To prepare for this continued growth and secure a successful future for Hoosiers, we plan to create more opportunities for discussions and joint presentations between the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) and the Indiana Chamber of Commerce (Chamber). By looking at the state of the future to promote better dialogue and action regarding collaborative efforts to increase the number of good jobs, diversify the economy, and continue to growing the state’s global competitiveness, state and local partners can have more targeted and coordinated talent and business development strategies moving forward. The Governor’s Workforce Cabinet and DWD will participate in the discussion with representation from the local workforce boards in order to drive awareness and identify any workforce policy changes that may be necessary.
The purpose of this type of event is to share publically available data from IEDC projects and the Indiana Chamber Employer Workforce Survey in partnership with its Institute for Workforce Excellence with post-secondary and secondary education partners as well as other local partners so there is recognition of economic trends and talent needs for the state and local regions. Sharing data like the IEDC Project Occupation Estimates, highlighted in Figure 1, which used EMSI data and IEDC Accepted Project Statistics is just one example of the type of information these discussions could provide. The report computed an estimate of the types of occupations IEDC projects will require, with the following assumptions made:
Each 2019 IEDC project was assigned a 3 digit NAICS code based on project details. Using EMSI data and information, a staffing pattern was created for each 3 digit NAICS code at a 2 digit and 4 digit occupation code level. For the purpose of this study, each project is assumed to distribute the new jobs in a similar ratio to all jobs in that industry. Please note that totals will not always add up due to rounding.  

Figure 1: IEDC Project Occupation Estimates, 2019

Industry Projects % Projects Jobs % Jobs
Advanced Manufacturing 96 37% 7,194 32%
Other 56 21% 4,442 20%
Life Sciences 28 11% 2,970 13%
Logistics and Transportation 25 10% 3,129 14%
Agribusiness 25 10% 2,515 11%
Information Technology 25 10% 1,885 8%
Aerospace and Defense 4 2% 390 2%
Energy 2 1% 250 1%
Totals 261   22,775  

The Indiana State Chamber of Commerce and its newly formed Instituted for Workforce Excellence can be a key partner in better understanding employer needs and the tools necessary for them to attract, development, and retain talent. The Institute can serve a principal role in helping employers connect to available resources, as further demonstrated by the results of the Indiana Chamber Foundation’s 11th annual employer workforce survey. More than half of survey respondents left jobs unfilled in the past year due to underqualified applicants. A total of 80% of employer’s responding cited filling their workforce needs as one of their biggest challenges. A majority (73%) have not used the state’s WorkOne employment system, and only 33% indicate they partner with postsecondary educational institutions to develop talent. Fifty-six percent expect to increase the size of their workforce in the next 12 to 24 months, therefore, creating an awareness of and connection to the talent system will be vital to providing the workforce necessary for that expansion. Using important data and outcomes from IEDC combined with information from the Chamber survey can provide partners across the talent development system the opportunity to look at trends in a way that has not been done previously. The system wide use of the data can encourage better alignment of the educational programs designed around business needs and to provide individuals with the skills necessary for employment opportunities of today and tomorrow.

Another example for leveraging data at the local level comes from the Aspen Institute. Indiana can strategically focus on analyzed data around automation and leverage it to prepare individuals for these types of changes in the workforce and encourage employers to invest in talent development.[11] Enabling talent to access skills training to recover from displacements due to automation will require a system that embraces better access to that type of training.

Indiana employers must see the value in participating in the upskilling and increasing the educational attainment of their employees in order to grow their business to meet future demands and adjust to new technologies. We will take advantage of partnerships between local workforce boards and employers to create the feedback loop necessary to ensure the information and data provided at these types of discussions is relevant and useful to our state and local employer community.

6. Modifying resources and tools based on employer feedback to provide a better user experience. Indiana will continue to strive to better the user experience for employers and Hoosiers with the workforce tools that are available. One such tool that has continued to evolve is Indiana Career Connect. Just recently, DWD has made the Indiana Career Connect phone application widely available. Indiana Career Connect shows where 92,000 open jobs are right now across the state. We will continue to listen to users of these tools to ensure that they are beneficial and meet the needs of those using them.

One of the most successful initiatives for employers to train workers has been the creation, under Next Level Jobs, of the Employer Training Grant.  The Employer Training Grant reimburses employers who train, hire, and retain new or incumbent workers to fill in-demand positions within recognized job fields. The grant will reimburse employers up to $5,000 per employee who is trained, hired, and retained for six months, up to $50,000 per employer. As Indiana endeavors to increase the number of Hoosiers with the skills to move into middle-skill jobs, we will allocate $500,000 of Employer Training Grant state funding for upskilling SNAP or TANF recipients as a way to increase access to advanced opportunities for low-income workers, which will, in turn, help increase talent for employers.

Indiana received feedback through frontline staff engaged in the Skillful Indiana Governor’s Coaching Corps that there were challenges with web-based applications and how staff and employer users interact with some of the technological tools currently available. IndianaCareerReady.com (ICR) allows Hoosier jobseekers, employers, students/parents, education/training providers, and workforce partners to access career and interest assessment tools, search for education and training opportunities, and find current job openings. The ICR tool offers connectivity to IndianaCareerConnect.com, IndianaCareerExplorer.com, and a customer relationship management (CRM) tool. The CRM software has resources for employers and educators to access including real time data, information regarding services available through the state and regional, state and nationwide industry news.

While all of this information is useful it must be organized systematically in a way that employers want to engage with and is easy for customers to use, or it will not be effective. Over the next year, state agencies, along with input from employers, Workforce Boards, and other stakeholder, will review the usability of our web-based applications for employers, regional staff, and individual constituents. In order to continue to improve service to employers, Indiana will look at other system models, such as Florida’s salesforce software platform, as a customer management tool that assists in business engagement to enhance and streamline business communication. 

7. Promoting talent diversity and non-traditional hiring practices. The arbitrary circumstances in which someone is born, such as gender, race, ethnicity, ability, ZIP code, and/or socioeconomic status greatly influences access to an individual’s opportunities in life, rather than all people having the chance to achieve to the best of their potential. These differences create a gap in opportunity for individuals and employers seeking the successes that accompany diverse creative, problem-solving teams.[12] This opportunity gap for individuals and employers alike is at risk of widening as the pace and effects of automation are felt differently across industries. A 2019 study released by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, “Women, Automation, and the Future of Work,” showcased the overrepresentation of women in roles at the extreme ends of the spectrum, both highest and lowest, of jobs at risk from automation. Key findings from the study include:

  • For every seven men who work in occupations that are most threatened by technological change, that is that have a 90 percent or higher likelihood of being eliminated by technology, there are 10 women in such jobs.
  • Women make up less than half (47 percent) of the workforce, but they are 58 percent of the people at the highest risk of losing their jobs to technology.
  • Hispanic women face the highest risk of job automation with 1 in 3 working in high-risk occupations.
    Similarly, a 2019 study by McKinsey and Company, “The future of work in black America,” evaluated potential displacement rates across race and found the following estimates for rates of displacement by 2030 in respective populations:
  • Asian population 21.7%
  • White/Caucasian population 22.4%
  • African American population 23.1%
  • Hispanic/Latino population 25.5%
    Many of Indiana’s employers are seeking diversity in their organizations and companies. Diversity provides employers with access to a greater range of talent and insight into the needs and motivations of a larger swath of their client or customer base, rather than just a small part of it. It also makes companies more effective, successful, and profitable.[13]To strengthen their own workforces and talent pipelines, employers can and should be critical partners in addressing disability, racial, and ethnic disparities. One strategy employers could use to increase diversity is to redefine job criteria to more accurately match the skills and requirements needed for the job. This could alleviate historically underrepresented candidates from being eliminated because they do not have the requisite degree. Employers can also invest in incumbent worker programs to help offset skill gaps among underrepresented minorities through upskilling/reskilling opportunities.[14] At the state level, we will work to recognize and promote employers’ and industry’s efforts to increase diversity in their workforce.
    The challenges are real, but there must be a focus on the opportunities that exist to strengthen local economies, align education to growing business sectors, and engage companies and resources in developing new types of training programs for those impacted by automation.
    Each of these studies offer recommendations for workforce, education, business, and other policy leaders that include improving skills development, creating new opportunities in the high-tech world, improving job quality and income security; and improving economic conditions in the geographies where certain racial groups are concentrated.  Additionally, the European Union (EU), UN Women, and the International Labour Organization created a joint initiative, WE EMPOWER, to promote business principles that advance gender equality and women’s economic empowerment.  The following seven Women’s Empowerment Principles can drastically improve gender equality and reduce wealth gaps that also hinder business growth:   
  1. Establish high-level corporate leadership for gender equality.
  2. Treat all women and men fairly at work, respect and support human rights and non-discrimination.
  3. Ensure the health, safety, and well-being of all workers.
  4. Promote education, training, and professional development for women.
  5. Implement enterprise development, supply chain, and marketing practices that empower women.
  6. Promote equality through community initiatives and advocacy.
  7. Measure and publicly report on progress to achieve gender equality.
    While these principles were drafted to address gender inequity, these solutions can be instituted to close opportunity gaps for all historically underrepresented and/or disadvantaged minorities in the changing landscape of work. Through the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet, we can facilitate partnerships between employers and community organizations that advocate or provide services for Hoosier minorities and those with disabilities, especially in those fields where they have been historically underrepresented.
    Below are few examples of employers that already are working toward this redefined talent pool goal:
  • Headquartered in Indianapolis, Morales Group Inc. (MGI) demonstrates how employers in Indiana are working to promote diversity, equity and inclusivity within the state’s workforce.  Passionate about delivering a purposeful staffing experience, MGI has successfully placed more than 50,000 associates in temporary, temporary-to-permanent, and direct hire placements. But building a more inclusive workforce pipeline involves more than hiring from a diverse pool of skilled individuals; it requires refining and refocusing recruitment strategies, involving diversity within the workplace, and actively supporting underrepresented team members. Involving diversity in the hiring process is something MGI highlights by first thinking through which team members are involved in the hiring process.  In addition to widening perspective and scope within hiring, it will help potential employees see workplace commonalities. Referral pipeline systems can also be a positive way to assist in a diverse talent pool.
  • The State of Indiana Personnel Department (SPD) leads by example with several initiatives, including one focusing on, “Unity in Diversity and Inclusion: A Journey.” A group of panelists from the state of Indiana and several Hoosier businesses were part of a discussion of professional executives moderated by Indiana State Personnel Department director Britni Saunders. SPD could add an additional contextual layer to these panel by including employees with diverse backgrounds are presenting.
  • Eskenazi Health ensures diversity and inclusion stays top of mind for employees by embedding it in everything the hospital does. As a hospital system Eskanazi wants the staff that represent the community that they serve.  Eskenazi closely monitors the diversity numbers and the retention of diverse employees. Eskenazi embraces the idea that when you improve quality of diversity you drive innovation. 

As we look to provide training opportunities for local WorkOne staff and highlight best practices that exist at a local level, diversity and inclusion training will be an area of focus. The trainings will include a focus on disability, socioeconomic, racial, and ethnic disparities in our talent development system. Employer engagement staff need to understand the unique populations that exist in each region and be knowledgeable in ways to connect and promote local employers to the diverse talent pools that exist within each of our workforce regions.


Indiana and the Future of Work: While key employer needs were determined by the Industry Subcommittee, in order to provide a comprehensive plan to address future needs across the state the subcommittee reviewed a range of strategies and offers a variety of solutions to ensure Indiana grows an adaptable, innovative, 21st Century Workforce.  As Indiana works to ensure all Hoosiers have access to growing and diversifying opportunities that exist within our state’s economy, it is imperative we begin to plan for how we not only serve individuals with a variety of life circumstances, but how we concurrently support our industry partners needing to connect with a rich talent pool as skill needs and workplace cultures evolve in the global economy.  

No list can be exhaustive but the subcommittee submits the strategies below as a starting point.  This list will only grow and develop as the Cabinet’s Strategic Plan is implemented and evolves. Each strategy provides an example of a Hoosier employer currently implementing at least one of these strategies through the adoption of the “Future of Work” concepts below.

  1. Providing employees opportunities to work, learn, and grow;
  2. Clearly articulated career paths coupled with access to requisite training;
  3. Flexible work opportunities offer access to wider talent pools; and
  4. Understanding and overcoming individual barriers to sustainable employment.

Benefits demonstrated by implementing these strategies include: increased employee engagement, needed insight into prospective employees as future company leaders, access to wider talent pools, increased employee retention, and increased company profits.

  1. Providing employees opportunities to work, learn, and grow. In The Coming Jobs War, CEO Jim Clifton, supported by substantial Gallup data, articulates how increasing profits and subsequent Gross Domestic Product (GDP), requires increasing employee engagement through workplace culture. Through a multi-year process of developing and then analyzing workplace cultural norms that influence how engaged an employee feels, Gallup developed a 12-question survey that can effectively communicate key indicators influencing a workforce. Research conducted during the development of the survey demonstrated that “employees need focus, they need to be free from stress by having the right materials to do their jobs, they want to be cared about as people, and they want to be valued, appreciated, heard, trusted and challenged.” The survey, which asks participants to rate on a scale how much they agree with a statement, concludes with the final statement, “This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.” Gallup analyzed employee engagement data from 152 organizations in 44 industries and 26 countries and found that when compared with bottom-quartile business units, units that scored in the top quartile of employee engagement had 12% higher customer metrics, 18% higher productivity, and 16% higher profitability. They also had 37% lower absenteeism, 25-49% lower turnover, 27% less theft, 49% fewer safety incidents, and 60% fewer quality incidents.

The Cook Group, headquartered in Bloomington, Indiana, is an international collection of five business lines: Resort, Property Management, Service, Life Science, and Medical Device, employing over 12,500 employees across the globe. Almost half of those employees come from south central Indiana. When one of their employees inquired about a job opportunity for her son who lacked the training credentials for employment, Cook realized that in order to meet their recruiting goals of thousands more employees in the next five to ten years, they needed to create training opportunities to connect with a new type workforce. They created the “My Cook Pathway” program, a new approach to attracting and retaining needed talent. In 2018, an employee participating in “My Cook Pathway” was able to earn a high school equivalency through their master’s degree for less than $2,600 out of pocket while they continued earning wages.  By partnering with education providers to best leverage state and federal programs, the cost to Cook Group was less than $2,000 per employee, with over one thousand employees participating in the program. Passionate about empowering people and communities to reach their full potential, the Cook Group leadership team developed a guide for other companies to utilize so they could develop similar models.

2. Clearly articulated career paths coupled with access to requisite training. New careers with new skill requirements are difficult for potential employees to pursue without insight on the opportunities available to them. Additionally, employers are increasingly interested in whether or not their current employees have the requisite skills to be future leaders within the company. With the understanding provided by Gallup’s research that employees are more engaged when they have opportunities to learn and grow, a clearly identified path to pursue the growth that new technology and evolving skills bring helps attract and retain valuable talent. Clearly outlined career growth patterns also provide needed guidance to educators striving to adapt curriculum to match skill needs as the economy continues to change. 

One critical strategy we will implement by 2022 is creating career pathway alignment across the entire talent development system.Indiana’s secondary CTE programs have historically been developed and operated separately from postsecondary and vice versa. Both secondary and postsecondary CTE have often been separated from the workforce development system. One of the best places we can begin in the joint planning process is to create common Indiana career pathways with multiple entry and exit points that will be used for the entire talent development system. Through our Combined Plan we can merge two disparate concepts established in different federal laws – career pathways under WIOA and programs of study under Perkins. We will merge these two concepts under a process of creating singularly defined pathways that provide opportunities for both youth and adults, beginning with secondary schools and aligned skills and running through postsecondary education and credential or degree completion.

Within the talent development system, there are several innovative strategies that expedite the instruction of requisite knowledge and training with remediation. Our community colleges can further include Adult Education providers through offering bridge programs that coordinate academic and occupational instruction by providing basic educational remediation concurrently with, rather than as a prerequisite for, college-level courses. Including Adult Education in an accredited community college’s bridge program could allow our WIOA Title II to provide funding. Another way to fund and expands these programs is through the Ability to Benefit (AtB) (Federal Program), which allows individuals without a secondary diploma to access federal financial aid. As we further integrate our systems through co-location and partnerships, we hope more of our community college campuses will take advantage of this financial aid opportunity. Through this flexibility in federal law, students who are concurrently enrolled in connected Adult Education and eligible postsecondary programs, but do not have a high school diploma or equivalent, could be Pell eligible.

A similar model to concurrent enrollment between Adult Education and postsecondary has been scaled in math courses by Ivy Tech Community College (ITCC). In 2015, ITCC altered its remedial curriculum to a co-requisite delivery format structured for most of its Math Pathways. They modeled after this on the Accelerated Learning Program, which originated at the Community College of Baltimore County and has shown consistent student success with nearly double the pass rates. The co-requisite model melts remediation with “gateway” courses to provide students with the opportunity to earn credit towards their degree rather than completing a remedial course prior to enrolling in the credit-bearing “gateway” course. Similar models throughout the nation have shown that offering co-requisite remediation can potentially double the traditional remedial student success in the “gateway” course.[15] AtB could offer a similar type of co-requisite model in other

Trilogy Health Services provides full- and part-time employees a variety of options to further their careers, one of which is the Fast Track Apprenticeship Program. This program gives employees the option to pursue certifications, the earning of which leads directly to promotions and wage increases.  When the program first began in January 2018, it offered the Nurse Aide Track and Culinary Track. The program has since partnered with Ivy Tech Community College to offer two additional tracks – Hospitality and Life Enrichment. Each of these certifications includes a $0.25 per hour premium pay, equivalent to $500 per year per certification.  An employee who completes all four certifications can earn up to $2,000 per year through the Fast Track Apprenticeship Program. This program is just one example of how clearly articulated career paths can help create a business culture necessary to accomplish employer growth goals and retain talent. This particular program was designed in partnership with the state’s Office of Work-Based Learning and Apprenticeship and funds from the Next Level Jobs, Employer Training Grant. This is a promising example of a partnership between the State and an employer to grow career paths.

Conexus, one of the state’s primary sector partners, also offers training programs that receive outside funding, which could help alleviate some of the costs burdens of WIOA Adult. Again, these are sector-specific and would need to match an individual’s aspirations and interests. Catapult Indiana, which is administered by Conexus, is an industry-led advanced manufacturing training program. The program teaches basic work skills for introductory manufacturing jobs to provide pathways to meaningful careers. Catapult Indiana seeks to prepare Hoosiers for some of the more than 85,000 jobs in Indiana that remain unfilled due to the skills gap. The program is a 160-hour course over four weeks that provides participants with hands-on, paid training opportunities that may result in manufacturing positions.

The Indiana Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education (INFAME) is a partnership between community colleges and regional manufacturers whose purpose is to implement career pathway, apprenticeship-style educational programs that will create a pipeline of highly skilled workers. Administered by the Indiana Manufacturers Association, the INFAME initiative can be customized to fit different regional programs and partnerships with local schools, trade schools, and colleges. This initiative works closely with Indiana’s educational institutions to establish and endorse programs and curricula that develop the skill-sets students need for Indiana’s manufacturing jobs, specifically an Advanced Manufacturing Technician (AMT). The AMT program is a standardized and structured approach to preparing an individual for a career. This five-semester technical program integrates both on-the-job training and classroom education, offering the individual the opportunity to earn wages and college credit while concurrently earning their diploma. INFAME also assists companies in creating work-based learning and training opportunities, such as registered apprenticeships, internships and on-the-job training.

There are also examples of Indiana’s high schools providing clearer postsecondary pathways for students prior to graduation. One such example of this is Purdue Polytechnic High School (PPHS). PPHS prepares its graduates for work by providing opportunities to earn high-valued certificates and college credit or to continue onto college. Students are also given the opportunity to have internships with companies and to be mentored by employees of companies. The PPHS partners with various industries across the state including healthcare, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, aviation, and non-profits for internship, mentoring, financial support, and career exploration.

The GWC can utilize its convening power to identify further examples of best practices like those illustrated above to help inform employers, local boards, and school districts about the number of advantages in partnering. The Cabinet can work with its partner agencies to disseminate best practices and support the development of these partnerships across our workforce regions.

3. Flexible work opportunities offer access to wider talent pools. Both freelance and remote work create flexibility for both the employer and employee to better balance external life factors of the employee with the skill and work product needs of the employer.  Freelance or remote work can mitigate the impact of challenges created by geography, schedule, transportation, childcare, and many other life variables employees face.  Key to successful freelance or remote work relationships are clear expectations between employees and supervisors regarding work product and workplace “presence” when direct interaction provided by physical presence is reduced, but there are a growing number of training supports and an emerging field of remote work certifications to eliminate challenges caused by unclear models for employers and employees to thrive in a much more fluid concept of the physical workplace.

Flexible work can allow employers to access a “dormant workforce” by mitigating the impact of challenges created by geography, schedule, transportation, childcare, and many other life variables employees face.  Key to successful remote work relationships are clear expectations between employees and supervisors regarding work product and workplace “presence” when direct interaction provided by physical presence is reduced, but there are a growing number of training supports and an emerging field of remote work certifications to eliminate challenges caused by unclear models for employers and employees to thrive in a much more fluid concept of the physical workplace. Under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers must provide any and all reasonable accommodations unique to an individual’s need. When applicable, employers may offer flexible work options (e.g., remote work or job sharing). Transportation, for instance, can be a barrier for individuals with disabilities to access quality jobs; providing flexible work opportunities may diminish this barrier for an individual. Flexible work options should not preclude the goal for all Hoosiers – including those with disabilities – to be fully integrated into the workforce.

Employers who need to fill positions with the possibility of remote work should think about tapping the talent pool in rural areas. Remote work would allow rural Hoosiers to access more economic opportunities, while staying rooted in their home community. It counteracts the rural flight we are experiencing in many of our communities, as well as increase the talent pools. Our regional plans need to include intentional action about how to capitalize upon the economic and social interdependence of urban and rural areas. The rural-urban symbiosis can span common geographic conditions, supply chains that fuel industry sectors with services, goods and talent, transportation and affordability-driven employee commuting patterns, media markets, and the goal to secure essential goods and services locally. In some areas of Indiana, rural places and cities serve as important markets for each other. This may include some of our urban initiatives analyzing rural-urban connections and strategies regarding transportation, land-use, agriculture, and water management.

Indiana’s Region 10 Workforce Board created the Bi-State Plan with Kentuckiana Works to advance the regional workforce. This Plan is the first of its kind to merge interstate regions into one designated workforce hub. This significant collaboration exists between local areas Indiana Region 10 and Kentuckiana Works in order to develop the regional plan around the Louisville metropolitan area, which includes urban and rural sprawl in southern Indiana. The Bi-State Regional Plan creates an innovative picture of the region’s economy and workforce environment through rural-urban, Indiana-Kentucky strategies to attain regional goals and objections.

Formstack is an Indianapolis based company founded in 2006. Started as a data capture solution, now their portfolio includes a product that has evolved into a powerful workplace productivity platform that helps people in all industries transform the way they collect data and put it to work.. While founded in Indianapolis, it is now a remote-first company with employees all over the world. Remote-first means working remote is standard and Formstack works to ensure remote employees are as much a part of the team as those in the office.

4. Understanding and overcoming individual barriers to sustainable employment. Accessing resources and needed social supports is extremely challenging for many low income individuals that are employed.  Their time availability outside of work to find and receive needed help is extremely limited. The lack of access to childcare in Indiana, for example, is costing the state severely:

  • $1.8 billion in direct cost to employers;
  • $1.1 billion in lost economic activity every year; and
  • $118.8 million in lost tax revenue.[16]

Many business leaders describe difficulties with attraction, retention, and engagement in their lower-wage workforce. Open positions and rapid turnover are a vicious cycle that is disruptive and expensive to your business. On average, companies are spending more than $2,000 in turnover costs per entry-level position. Clearly, there is a competitive advantage for an organization that succeeds in retaining and motivating their lower-wage employees.[17] By helping employees access needed social supports like childcare, transportation, housing, or other resources, employers have the opportunity to access large groups of skilled and motivated employees.

Indiana will look to promoting or adapting resources to help employers understand the needs of their lower-wage workforce, as this may be the first step on a journey to retention and engagement. Even full-time workers who are in lower-wage jobs can struggle to meet their family’s basic needs from week-to-week. Many workplace policies are designed to support the needs of middle- and upper-class employees and may overlook the needs of lower-wage workforce. As many lower-wage employees live paycheck to paycheck and struggle balancing transportation, childcare and/or elder care, and multiple part-time jobs, lower-wage workers have different complexities and challenges than their upper-level counterparts. Through our business service teams, Indiana’s employer outreach and support services – from the state to the local level – will assist employers with implementing workplace policies to support them will have a distinct competitive advantage among their peers.[18] Using resources outside of Indiana, such as F, as well as developing Hoosier-specific resources, we can help employers determine policies that address their talent challenges and the unique needs of our target populations. One example is encouraging employers to make contributions to their employees’ College 529 or ABLE accounts, as well as providing tuition grants upfront for education and training programs, rather than tuition reimbursement models, and to help employees repay student loans in an effort to attract, retain, and develop talent.

A collection of four manufacturing industries, as well as the public library in La Porte, partnered with WeConnect, an Employer Resource Network (ERN), to improve workforce retention through employee support and training. This is an example of one promising practice occurring at the local level and through continued coordination of activity and programs outlined within this plan this type of activity can become a best practice across all workforce regions. The model is designed to help employees navigate needed social supports through a collaborative network of employers, community partners, government agencies, and critical community resources.  The WeConnect ERN has now merged with Goodwill Industries, but in its first year of operation it provided a number of services to the five employers. These services included: childcare, financial literacy, healthcare, transportation, housing, legal assistance, food assistance, education, and more. Of those served, 95.5% remained employed with the employer. This is an example of how employers can increase employee retention by partnering with local community-based organizations to offer services aimed at addressing life circumstances experienced by employees.

[1] EARN Indiana was established in 2013 under Indiana Code 21-16-2.

[2] US Internal Revenue Service. Tax Benefits for Businesses Who Have Employees with Disabilities.

[3] McKinsey Global Institute, July 2019. The future of work in America: People and places, today and tomorrow.

[4] As adapted from the Indiana Department of Education’s Work-Based Learning Manual.

[5] Talent tours can occur at a business or higher education campus and can provide exposure and orientation about various local career opportunities in various sectors and career paths. The tours can include presentations and information on potential industry offerings. This is adapted from Michigan Works! as a best practice.

[6] Indiana’s State Earn and Learn (SEAL) programs are certified through the Office of Work-Based Learning and Apprenticeship. They are structured, but flexible, programs that include an education component and OJT component. SEALs focus on employer needs, with sustainable partnerships and embedded industry certifications. They can last from weeks to years depending on employer, education, certification, or licensing requirements.

[7] Pre-apprenticeship programs are connected to a registered apprenticeship. They can offer foundational experiences providing training, support services, and career navigation assistance to help people gain the skills and awareness they need to enter and succeed in apprenticeships and related careers.

[8] Department of Labor. Apprenticeship: Data and Statistics.

[9] More information on the program is available at https://polytechnic.purdue.edu/p-cap

[10] Apprenticeship Toolkit, Advancing Apprenticeship as a Workforce Strategy, U.S. Department of Labor, 2018.

[11] Automation and a Changing Economy: Policies for Shared Prosperity, Aspen Institute.

[12] Konrad, 2006. Leveraging workplace diversity in organizations; Prasad et al., 2006. Examining the contours of workplace diversity: Concepts, contexts and challenges; Chang et al, 2019. Diversity thresholds: How social norms, visibility, and scrutiny relate to group composition.

[13] McKinsey & Company, 2015. Why Diversity Matters.

[14] McKinsey & Company, 2019. The Future of Work in Black America.

[15] Ivy Tech Community College, 2013. Ivy Tech Community College Announces Math Pathways Project.

[16] Indiana University Public Policy Institute, 2018. Lost Opportunities: The Impact of Inadequate Child Care on Indiana’s Workforce & Economy.

[17] Women’s Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation. Cost of Turnover.

[18] Women’s Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation. Know Your Workforce.