Apprenticeships Taking Center Stage

In 2017, there were more than 533,000 apprentices participating in nearly 22,500 apprenticeship programs.

Apprenticeships and Community Colleges: Do They Have a Future Together is a recent report from the American Enterprise Institute. Below is a summary:

Most of today’s college students view having suc­cess in the workplace, earning a decent salary, and having a fulfilling career as key reasons for pursu­ing higher education. This sentiment is echoed by gov­ernors, state legislators, and higher education leaders who are looking at the labor market success of gradu­ates to evaluate how well postsecondary institutions are preparing students to join the workforce and contrib­ute to the economy.

However, there is a growing belief that colleges are not adequately preparing students for the jobs and careers needed in the 21st century and that a substantial gap exists between the training and education America’s college graduates receive and the skills today’s labor market demands.

Of the many options being actively discussed to bridge the divide, apprenticeship programs are attract­ing widespread bipartisan support. Apprenticeships are often considered the “gold standard” of workforce edu­cation. They are formal training programs during which successful applicants are paid while being trained on the job by experienced workers or mentors.

Acquiring new skills in the workplace is accompanied by related train­ing, typically provided by an educational institution such as a community college or a trade organization such as a union. In the past two years of his adminis­tration, President Barack Obama made apprenticeships a priority, directing well over $250 million to support apprenticeship programs. In 2017, President Trump signed an executive order to increase federal funding from $90 million per year to $200 million.

Public two-year community colleges are already central to the nation’s career and technical education system, granting hundreds of thousands of occupa­tionally oriented certificates and technically focused associate degrees. Many community college leaders have welcomed the administration’s call for appren­ticeship programs, and some have already shown themselves adept at working with the Department of Labor’s registered apprenticeship programs. But the overwhelming majority of community colleges have a ways to go before they can meaningfully contribute to the number of apprenticeships that so many poli­ticians and analysts argue the nation needs.

In this report we explore how community col­leges could play a more active role in growing the number of apprenticeships nationwide, a role that would contribute to resolving the current mismatch between what postsecondary institutions produce and what employers need.

Achieve Your Degree (and Save Money) With Indiana Chamber Discount

Many of the adults in Indiana with some or no postsecondary education are already working at companies or organizations that are desperate for a pipeline of talent to grow their businesses.

Those companies need to look no further than their own employee base with assistance from Ivy Tech Community College and its Achieve Your Degree program (plus a tuition discount courtesy of your Indiana Chamber of Commerce membership).

Employers interested in upskilling their existing workforce, attracting new employees with a tuition reimbursement benefit and are members of the Indiana Chamber can enroll in Achieve Your Degree and offer full-time employees a 5% discount on tuition costs, or take advantage of that savings if the company already pays employee tuition.

With Achieve Your Degree, employers can offer tuition reimbursement with minimal up-front costs as tuition can be deferred to the end of the semester. An Ivy Tech representative will also offer on-site academic advising and work with students on the financial aid application process.

Flexibility and customization are hallmarks of Achieve Your Degree. For example, to ensure students maintain their working schedules, they may take a combination of in-class and distance education. As the largest public postsecondary institution in Indiana, Ivy Tech has more than 40 locations throughout the state.

The Indiana Chamber expects the partnership with Ivy Tech to pay off for its member companies in several ways: skill upgrades, cost savings and building employee loyalty by offering the benefit.

Ivy Tech started the Achieve Your Degree program in 2016.

Member companies interested in learning more or signing up can find more information at www.indianachamber.com/achieve. Verify your Indiana Chamber membership is current and that your company is eligible for the 5% discount by calling Nick at (317) 264-6898.

Taking Employee Skills to the ‘Next Level’

Over the next decade, more than one million jobs must be filled in Indiana. Governor Holcomb recently announced enhancements to the Employer Training Grant component of the Next Level Jobs initiative, which prepares Hoosiers for positions in high-demand industry sectors.

What’s different? As of May 1, the reimbursement amount per new employee jumped from $2,500 to $5,000. The cap per employer also doubled – from $25,000 to $50,000.

Where does training take place? In-house or from an external provider.

What types of businesses are covered by the Employer Training Grant? Six industries are featured:

  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Building and Construction
  • Health Sciences
  • Information Technology and Business Services
  • Transportation and Logistics
  • Agriculture

Since its inception to 2017, nearly 600 applications have been received. More than $5.2 million in training funds have been obligated.

Tech Talk: McDonald Lights Economic Fire

John McDonald, CEO of ClearObject and chair of the Indiana Chamber’s Tech Policy Committee, is proficient in many areas – including crafting analogies.

In the current BizVoice® magazine, he authors a thoughtful column titled “Indiana’s Economy: Great for Business, Not Yet for Entrepreneurs.” On the analogy side, consider this excerpt:

“If the spark that ignites an entrepreneurial company is initiative, then what are the other necessary components that fuel the fire of innovation? Like we learned in elementary school, fire requires fuel, oxygen and heat, and if any of these elements is removed, the fire stops.

“Similarly, entrepreneurship requires three elements: ideas, capital and skilled people, with the spark of initiative to light the flame. Take any of these away and the fire of an entrepreneurial company ‘flames out.’ “

Check out John’s full column.

The focus of the March-April issue is on Outstanding Talent. Nearly 20 stories outline programs, initiatives and people making a difference in the worlds of education and workforce development. Among the features:

  • The Excel Center, where adults gain the assistance and pair it with their own motivation to reach new heights in education and career opportunities
  • The Crossing Schools, where high school students in need of direction find it in the form of hands-on learning and work experiences
  • The International School of Indiana, where a challenging curriculum is only part of the mix for high-performing students

The Indiana Chamber is highlighted through the Foundation’s Business Champions Advisory Network, Indiana INTERNnet’s 12th annual IMPACT Award winners and an overview of the organization’s workforce development efforts.

View the full issue.

Video: BizVoice Focuses on Education, Workforce in New Edition

Our Tom Schuman gives a two-minute look into the new March/April edition of BizVoice® magazine, detailing stories on education and workforce initiatives, as well as a peak into Indiana’s political history with a new entry in our yearlong Road Trip Treasures series. Additionally, a guest columnist tackles the needed ingredients for Indiana to ignite the entrepreneurial fire.

Watch:

Key Workforce Development Legislation Still a Work-in-Progress

In the Indiana General Assembly, both House Bill 1002 and Senate Bill 50 have been significantly amended in ways that we support, but also in ways that give us some concern. We have strong support for the thoughtful and deliberate work on the study by the Legislative Service Agency of all workforce programs. It is extremely thorough and we look forward to the results of each year’s report and presentation. We also support the language regarding the Next Level Jobs Employer Training Grant program. The career and technical education (CTE) student information portal for local employers is a prime example of a creative model without having to spend extra capital. And we also support expanding the Employment Aid Readiness Network (EARN) Indiana program to include part-time students.

We hope to continue the conversation on the makeup of the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet in conference committee and have some questions as to how this will work in conjunction with the State Workforce Innovation Council (SWIC), a similar existing cabinet that is required to have its membership be 50% employers. We appreciate the language in the bill allowing the Indiana Chamber to be consulted with on a gubernatorial appointment for a business leader to the panel; however, we question why we cannot simply utilize the SWIC.

If we are tied to the idea of creating a new cabinet, we feel strongly that we should have more employer voices at the table, plus give the Indiana Chamber a seat as well. The Chamber’s place on the cabinet would provide historical knowledge on workforce issues, representing the voices of thousands of members and investors throughout the state and providing consistency when we have a new Governor who would make the majority of the appointees (be they employers or agency heads).

In close, though these bills are better and moving in the right direction, they still need work. The Chamber will continue to advocate for strong policies throughout conference committee.

Short Session Starts With a Flurry of Activity

The Governor and General Assembly have continually heard from Hoosier employers on the need for a skilled workforce – and better aligning state programs with job demand. The good news is bills are being introduced to address those concerns. While only a handful of measures have been released to date, we are seeing legislation related to training tax credits and grants, as well as efforts to streamline current workforce programs. We anticipate a comprehensive workforce bill (1002) will be introduced in the House later next week.

The Governor’s computer science bill (SB 172) requires all public schools to offer a one-semester elective computer science course at least once each school year to high school students. We expect a hearing on this measure in the next two weeks. Both this and the workforce efforts are 2018 Indiana Chamber legislative priorities.

Senate Bill 257 has been introduced by Sen. Travis Holdman (R-Markle) to serve as the beginning of discussions on clarifying the exempt status of computer software sold as a service (SaaS) – a Chamber priority. Holdman is also authoring another major piece of tax legislation, SB 242, which contains a variety of tax matters. The House bills are coming in too, with a good number already filed addressing local tax issues.

Speaking of local matters, the Chamber is very pleased to see that the House Republican agenda includes a bill that will make township government more effective and efficient by the merging of townships (approximately 300) where less than 1,200 people reside. Such local government reform has been a longstanding Chamber goal.

In addition to SB 257, other technology-related bills include Rep. Ed Soliday’s (R-Valparaiso) autonomous vehicle (AV) proposal to position Indiana to safely test and implement AV technology with automobiles. The bill also will address truck platooning, which uses GPS and WiFi technology to allow trucks to more closely follow each other for greater efficiency, on Indiana roads.

Rural broadband, high-speed internet and small cell wireless structures technology all will be topics for the Legislature to debate. Certified technology parks also will be discussed with the idea to have an additional capture of sales and income tax revenue for those complexes that perform well.

In health care, enabling employers to ask prospective employees if they are smokers not only heads the Chamber’s wish list but also appears to be gaining traction this go-round. Eliminating the special protections (currently in state statute) for smokers is found in SB 23 and will be guided by Sen. Liz Brown (R-Fort Wayne). The bill has a pretty good chance of getting a hearing in the Senate – which would be a first. Previously, a measure was taken up in a joint hearing in the House.

Increasing the tobacco tax and raising the legal age for smokers to 21 are policies that likely will be included in a bill to be introduced by Rep. Charlie Brown (D-Gary). The Indiana Chamber is supportive of both.

Nine utility-related bills are on our radar screen at this point. They range from tweaks of last year’s big legislation (like SB 309, which addressed rising energy costs and a long-standing struggle between the investor-owned electric utilities and larger consumers of energy) to compulsory sewer connection, excavation for infrastructure, regulation of solar energy systems in homeowners’ associations and new water legislation. Separately, Sen. David Niezgodski (D-South Bend) has a proposed ban on coal tar pavement sealer, which we oppose.

There are also a number of bills proposing changes to Indiana’s alcohol laws including: Sunday sales, cold beer sales by grocery and convenience stores, and increases in fees and penalties.

The Chamber will be providing more details on all of these bills as the session progresses.

For anyone who wants a refresher about how legislation becomes law, the Chamber has a handy guide free of charge. It includes a diagram of the bill process, a glossary of often-used terms and a look at where bills commonly get tripped up.

Additionally, the Chamber will be providing updates and issuing pertinent documents throughout the session at www.indianachamber.com/legislative.

Tech Talk: Be Part of the Talent Solution

You don’t need anyone to tell you about the workforce/talent challenges that companies across the state are facing. The tech and innovation sectors, of course, are not alone in dealing with this dilemma.

Solutions must be both short and long term. Think coding schools and other training opportunities as more immediate; reaching deeper into the K-12 system to introduce potential careers at an earlier age as being on the other end of the spectrum.

But a message we’ve shared, no matter the business or industry, is to be part of that solution. Don’t just point out the problems. Don’t blame others unless you’re willing to help produce answers.

One way that everyone can contribute is to Share Your Road. It’s not just a phrase, but a coordinated initiative to introduce young people to the possibilities and what they can and should be doing to help reach those career destinations.

The Indiana Chamber Foundation and Indiana INTERNnet are among the Share Your Road partners, part of the Roadtrip Indiana initiative that sent three students on the road earlier this year. A public television series in 2018 will highlight what they learned.

See some of those who have helped pave the way thus far and take the time to inspire others at https://indiana.shareyourroad.com.

Share Your Road

State Plans First Indiana Sectors Summit

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The inaugural Indiana Sectors Summit, launching the Indiana Sector Partnership Initiative, will take place October 19-20. The purpose of the summit is to grow and expand sector partnerships across Indiana, as well as continue to explore how sector partnerships can be used as the vehicle to develop industry-driven career pathways.

Geared toward Indiana employers, the two-day event will include panels and breakout sessions around the topics of sector partnerships, pathways and work-and-learn. The summit will also include the annual Elevating Work & Learn in Indiana event and the Skill UP! Indiana Round 2 awards ceremony.

The Indiana Department of Workforce Development event will take place in Carmel. Find more information online.

Promise Initiative is Indeed Promising

I went to Wabash (the city, not the college) recently. At one point (1985-88), I was in Wabash full time as sports editor of the local newspaper. Among the highlights during that time: a still celebrated 1986 state baseball championship.

But I digress. The reason for this visit to Wabash was for an upcoming BizVoice magazine story on the Wabash County Promise. And if young, energetic leaders have their way — and there is no reason to doubt them — the program to drive postsecondary educational attainment will one day be the Indiana Promise.

The Promise begins with opening 529 college savings accounts for young students (kindergarten through third grade). It continues with touch points that engage students and parents. It includes a Walk Into My Future day that brings thousands of young people to a college campus.

The initial success is laudable. The local leaders I spoke with know they must continue the work.  One, Parker Beauchamp, told me about speaking on campus (with the words really applying to the entire program): “It was about pumping those kids up, having them be part of something positive and letting them have a say in their future.”

The full story will be the in March-April BizVoice, which will include more articles on business-education connections and the possibilities that emerge through strong partnerships.