Boosting Indiana’s Workforce

Posted by: Lydia Kirschner  | Monday, February 25, 2019

Indiana is ranked among the top 10 in the nation for its business climate and pro-growth policies, but more needs to be done to build up our workforce and better prepare Hoosiers for careers in high-demand fields. House Bill 1002, which I voted in favor of, would reallocate existing state funds to proven workforce programs so Hoosiers can increase their certifications, earn stackable credentials and secure higher-paying jobs in sought after fields.

Indiana’s private sector continues to grow, and we need to attract and retain more skilled workers to fill high-demand jobs. This legislation would build off our previous workforce efforts and continue strengthening our talent pipelines. By 2020, nearly two-thirds of in-demand jobs will require experience beyond a high school education.

This proposed legislation would prioritize career and technical education and provide more flexibility for schools to partner with employers to establish work-based learning opportunities. Career and technical education courses help prepare students to enter the workforce immediately after high school by learning how core school subjects are used in real-life careers. Through these CTE courses, a certified manufacturing machinist, inspector, engineer or line worker could teach without a license if they meet specific occupational and training requirements. Students who take part in these CTE classes could earn credits and certifications that could be used to obtain in-demand jobs after high school.

While some students choose to earn a four-year degree, that is not the only route young Hoosiers can follow to obtain fulfilling, well-paying jobs. Our top workforce priority is encouraging early career exploration and providing comprehensive career navigation to students. Implementing a career engagement, exploration and experience model in appropriate grade levels would give students a better understanding of all available career options upon graduation.

February is National Career and Technical Education Month, and a good opportunity to recognize the importance of programs that encourage students to explore career opportunities. A local program, Area 18 CTE, offers 294 career-related classes to high school students in Adams, Blackford, Huntington, Jay and Wells counties. Blackford High School offers courses through this program including agriculture, business, engineering and consumer sciences. Marion Community Schools also offer courses through the Marion Regional Career Center such as aviation, construction, HVAC and industrial repair. Indiana has various programs serving more than 24,000 students across the state, with 94 percent of these students going on to graduate from high school, according to the National Coordinating Council for Career and Technical Student Organizations.

As a lawmaker, I want to maintain Indiana’s progress by supporting legislation that helps Hoosiers increase their certifications and credentials to secure high-paying jobs. To learn more about House Bill 1002, visit iga.in.gov. Your opinions matter, and as proposals for new laws progress through the process, let’s stay connected. For questions or input, please call 317-234-9499 or email H31@iga.in.gov.

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  State Rep. Kevin Mahan (R-Hartford City) represents House District 31,

which includes all of Blackford County and portions of Delaware,

Grant and Wells counties.

Click here to download a high-resolution photo.