Don’t Get Angry; Get Informed

I’ve been with the Indiana Chamber for just over a year now and in that time I’ve gotten to write about many of the Chamber’s initiatives and programs. The more I learn, the more fascinating I find the work they do for the state of Indiana. One that has really been catching my attention lately is Ready Indiana, the Chamber’s workforce education initiative.

In fact, I think of Ready Indiana every time I see anything about the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement.

I know it doesn’t seem these two have a common link, but hear me out. I’ve been reading through various news articles and posts on Facebook and talking to what supporters I can find to try and figure out what exactly the OWS group is upset about (still haven’t found one actual common theme – to me it just seems that everyone who is angry about anything has backed this movement).

One of the gripes I’ve seen most often, however, has been about the fact that college students are graduating with major amounts of debt to enter a job market without well-paying jobs. Another facet of the movement is upset about the fact that the older generation doesn’t have the skills for the new jobs that are being created, or the money to go out and get the necessary education.

These two points are where Ready Indiana (and any other workforce development or education initiative across the nation) comes in – opportunities do exist for the experienced workers and those who are right out of school. Below are just a few examples.

On the Ready Indiana web site,, there’s a long list of middle-skills jobs that Indiana can’t do without (computer support specialists, nurses, fire fighters, police officers, lab technicians, heavy truck drivers, and many more). The list includes the number of job openings in each field and the median earnings for 2009 – the lowest median earning on that list is $33,407; the highest is $67,280.

These middle-skill jobs require more than a high school diploma, but less than a four-year degree. Employers, community colleges, private career schools and apprenticeship programs offer the necessary training and skills for these careers. High schools are also beginning to offer more technical courses so that students don’t have to graduate and venture into the job market with huge debt.

To combat the workforce skills gap, Ready Indiana recently announced a partnership with the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC), which will allow employers to train their current and even prospective employees in-house through a nationally-recognized training program for manufacturing and logistics. On-the-job training grants are available, and the completed certification is also good for six credits to Ivy Tech Community College.

There are jobs available – in fact, a common complaint by employers is that they cannot find qualified workers to fill their many open positions. This BizVoice® story that appeared in the July-August edition features Westfield Steel and is a good example of Hoosier employers practically begging for qualified applicants.

These are just a few small hints into what is available to Hoosiers who are willing to do the research and find existing job opportunities. Personal responsibility is an important key to finding employment, whether you’re fresh out of school or making a comeback into the workforce.

Protesting might get your anger or frustrations out, but it doesn’t give you an income, access to health insurance or a sense of security. Utilizing resources like Ready Indiana and the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, however, can lead to those important measures.