Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Job-Seekers Have 'Skills Gap' ; Workforce Development Addressed in Meeting

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Job-Seekers Have 'Skills Gap' ; Workforce Development Addressed in Meeting

Article excerpt

With a current unemployment rate of 8.4 percent, Indiana has no shortage of people who are looking for jobs. The hitch, says the Indiana Chamber of Commerce's leader, is that many of these job seekers lack the skills and training required for the jobs that are available.

"We have a lot of people in this state who lack minimum basic skills," said Kevin Brinegar, president and chief executive officer of the statewide pro-business organization.

On Wednesday, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce held a luncheon meeting in Evansville to discuss the scope of the problem and what can be done to fix it. About 50 people attended the meeting, held at Vectren's corporate headquarters.

Workforce development is one of four topic areas addressed in the chamber's long-range economic development plan, Indiana Vision 2025.

The meeting was the last of seven similar gatherings that the state Chamber has hosted around the state.

Discussion on the topic was wide-ranging, covering everything from the "skills gap" between job-seekers and available positions to how to get students interested in pursuing careers in the skilled trades.

One issue, Brinegar said, is that Indiana - and the nation in general - doesn't have enough workers qualified to fill positions in the so-called STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

For every one unemployed Hoosier, Brinegar said, there exist 2.4 STEM jobs that go unfilled for lack of qualified applicants.

"By and large, the people unemployed in Indiana don't have the credentials to take and succeed in those jobs," Brinegar said.

Another issue, attendees said, is that too many students, parents and guidance counselors are focused solely on four-year college degrees - a focus that overlooks the many good jobs available that don't require a bachelor's degree.

"There are very fine careers and respectable positions available in the trades," said Ron Christian, Vectren's chief legal officer. …

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