[R76] Rep. McNamara: Own your American Dream - Bridging the Skills Gap (10/30/2012)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Start Date: 10/30/2012 Start Time: 12:00 AM
End Date: 10/30/2012 End Time: 11:59 PM
Own your American Dream
Bridging the Skills Gap

Getting Hoosiers back to work has been my focus since day one. The sputtering economy and the escalating level of uncertainty in the marketplace were motivating factors behind my decision to serve my community.

I have remained absolute in my determination to get Indiana on the right path and growing again. Since the low point of the recession, Indiana has grown by focusing on and creating private sector jobs at nearly double the pace of the nation – 6.5 percent compared to 3.5 percent. Earlier this year, Indiana even led the nation in the number of private sector jobs created – more than any other state. The growth seen today would not have been possible without the resilient nature of Hoosiers tightening their belts and doing what is necessary to overcome the economic obstacles before us.

State government followed the people’s lead by living within its means and crafting an honestly balanced budget focused on economic development and education. The size of government and its workforce has been reduced to levels seen decades ago without compromising efficiency and effectiveness.

These are the driving forces behind economic prosperity. Strategically focusing on incentives for entrepreneurs and investors to boost our state’s economy has led to job creation and private sector growth. In kind, numerous publications and job creators have taken notice of Indiana’s pro-business, jobs-first agenda ranking the Hoosier state ahead of its Midwest competitors and much of the country. 

With new jobs being created in Indiana, we cannot afford to be complacent. We must build on our state’s momentum. 

I want to replicate the success of the Southern Indiana Career and Technical Center as well as other STEM-related education opportunities. Southern Indiana provides a great education model for the rest of the state to follow. Our education system focuses on developing the skill sets needed to fill jobs currently being created and those that will be in the future.

As a state, improving our STEM and career and technical education programs in high schools will provide an alternative pathway to a successful career. Jobs in STEM-related fields are being created faster than any other field as there are currently 2.4 STEM jobs available for every unemployed person in the US. 

Furthermore, it is important to support partnerships between local industries and higher education institutions to retain our most talented individuals and fill the needs of current employers.  Let’s also target investments on training programs with high potential such as advanced manufacturing, health care, computer technologies and construction. Indiana’s manufacturing sector is one of the best in the country, but two-thirds of manufacturing companies reported a moderate to severe shortage of available, qualified workers. 

Hoosiers are finding employment again because we are focused on creating an economic climate that is conducive to job growth and retention, which in turn is making Indiana the envy of other states. Continuing to be fiscally responsible, expanding education opportunities and bridging the skills gap will lower unemployment and lead to greater prosperity for Hoosiers. It is time to seize the opportunities before us and our unheralded potential as a state. It is time to restore confidence in the American Dream.


Guest column is published in the Posey County News.