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Kristin Deckard, Executive Director of Ready Indiana, Indiana Chamber of Commerce Interview


How did Ready Indiana start?

KD: The Ready Indiana concierge came about as a result of a grant that was given to the Chamber to address workforce skills through helping employers develop their employees. It was a result of a study found that a large percentage of our population working age Hoosiers that many of them basic skill deficits that would present a challenge if they were to have to go into post-secondary re-training, skills training, or perhaps if they lost their job and needed to job search and have job skills for a new career.

As it evolved, the concierge service became available. Employers began to call and email for assistance. It became more clear to me that their needs were not just in the basic skills arena, but to find applicants for a variety of positions and occupations at a variety of skill levels. In large part, employers are looking for funding to help with training initiatives that they've identified as important. Sometimes they are looking for training providers. Some times they are looking for curriculum to grow their own internally through their own training.

All of those are things that I still help employers connect to. You've got varied systems in Indiana that address workforce development, and even things like adult education through workforce development in their regional WorkOne centers, economic development through the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. Both of those groups have training grants from employers that are sizable and can have a big impact on their training budget. We also work with Ivy Tech in Vincennes, the public providers of workforce training in our state just to help employers save time in figuring out what they qualify for, what programs meet the needs now, and who they talk to.

How have Indiana skills evolved because of this program?

KD: I've seen plenty of stories about employers saying that they can't find employees with the skills that they need. Whether it's basic qualifications, whether its advanced degrees, as we're doing these workshops and workshops around the state we hear from employers that every instance that experiencing these same issues still today.

As you look at the headlines, they go back for the last two or three years, so this is not a new problem but a current problem. And yet, we as the state Chamber conviene with these employers. We do a survey every year of employers statewide all for relaying employers needs for the groups that are developing the workforce.

What we did with the Indiana skill side is to go straight to the source and job postings. We have on demand data on the site that comes from two years of job postings of Indiana. We have decided to keep it at a middle skills level, so when we have looked at all of those job postings that were placed we set aside any posting that requested a bachelor's degree. Not that those are not important, and we plan to address that later, but we want this site to address a middle skills gap.

A lot of research shows that middle skills job demand in our state exceeds the supply of workers that have a middle skills credential. So a middle skills credential could be an industry certification that a person has in addition to a high school diploma. It could be an associate's degree , or even a technical certificate that a lot of people don't know exist. These one year programs at like Ivy Tech in Vincennes that count and build toward an associates degree.

But yet, when you put on your resume and in an interview talk to an employer about the skills you gained in that one year certificate program you definitely have an advantage over someone who doesn't have those. So we've looked at all of those job ads that fit that level of career and we've ranked what are the job titles most requested by employers, and then we've divided that up by region.

So here in region one you can find a list of what came out in those job postings from the top 10 all the way down to the very bottom of the list. You can then drill that into what are the skills , special and basic skills, and certifications that employers mentioned in those job ads.

How can people reach out to Ready Indiana?

KD: First, go to http://www.IndianaSkills.com, .org, and .net. I believe we have every domain possible. Go there and look at the site, and you can also contact us through the site. You can also search for us on LinkedIn for Ready Indiana or Indiana skills names bring up our group. It's growing almost everyday. We always have new people joining that group. What we do there is simply put out interesting snippets of information, about once a week and nothing that is overwhelming. it's a way to digest all of that data that is on that site in small chunks, and it stimulates discussion.

How will this play a role in schools?

KD: My passion is to get into the schools with this information so that students and counselors can start to inform their activities with liberal market information. I've met with guidance counselors and I ask about what kind of market labor information do they look at.

It seems that on average that they are not using labor market information as a tool to guide students because they may not really know what it is or what sources provide that, especially the different types of marketing labor out there federally. But here within our state it's a unique tool from across the country that we've developed here, so high school guidance counselors, high school students, career and tech ed centers do a great job of including certifications in their pathways now.

We want students to know what jobs are asking for that credential that they have, and the post secondary system before students commit for a specific major or program. We want to work with both the career services, the enrollment counselors, and the academic advisors to make sure they understand that this is just one piece of information but it can influence them in a good way. We want students to experience success upon graduation. We want that 40 or 50 year old person that may have unfortunately been laid off to start over. I hope that this site can be useful for people like that who are thinking that I've got a little time and a little money and I've got to get back on board with a new career.

 

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