Nearly word-for-word, Holcomb recycles stale workforce policies of the past decade

Meanwhile, 1 million Hoosiers still lack the skills to compete

INDIANAPOLIS – Freshman Governor Eric Holcomb identified workforce development as his priority this session. If that sounds familiar, it’s because both his predecessors did, too. It won’t be bold new ideas, though. No, Holcomb is leaning heavily on the repackaged policies of the Daniels and Pence administrations. The problem is, for more than a decade, those policies have largely failed to move the needle on Indiana’s workforce crisis, while local elected officials and economic developers work hard to attract and retain jobs.

The Problem: The number of Hoosiers 25-64-year-olds with an associate degree or higher – an indicator of workforce preparedness – ranked 42nd in 2005.  After 10 years of Daniels and Pence administrations’ programs and policies to boost the workforce, that rank inched up to 40th in 2015, well behind the national average.

Job skills training programs

2017 Holcomb: Upon announcing the Next Level Jobs Workforce Ready Grants:

“Together, these programs provide more than $20 million over the next two years for Hoosiers and employers for training and certifications that help Indiana meet current workforce demand.”

2013 Pence: During the governor’s State of State Address:

“In addition, we provide $18 million over two years to ensure that all Hoosier workers have the skills they need to find a job in today’s economy.”

2013 Pence: Upon the signing of the Indiana Career Council initiative:  

“This concentrated effort to target the state’s programs and ensure that Indiana’s workforce has the skills and certifications to make our state even more competitive will create jobs,” Pence said.”

2006 Daniels: Announcing Training Acceleration Grant awards:

“The Training Acceleration Grant program is a key tool to ensuring Indiana employers have access to a globally competitive workforce,”…“Through these grants, Hoosier workers receive training that better positions them for higher wages and improves the competitiveness of their employers.”

Aligning education to business needs at a local level

2017 Holcomb: Governor Holcomb outlining his 2018 workforce priorities:

“I will create the Governor’s Education to Career Pathway Cabinet … the cabinet will build the right framework to guide local communities as they develop and implement plans for education and workforce training that make sense for their unique economic and employment needs. These Local Talent Cabinets will consist of educators, business leaders and other stakeholders with roots in their communities.”

2013 Pence: Upon signing the Regional Works Council initiative:

“Using a regional approach helps do that in a way that best meets the needs of our students, our communities and our employers, and it will mean jobs and opportunities for Hoosiers for generations to come,” Pence said.”

2005 Daniels: Announcing Regions Awarded Workforce Development Grants:

“Representatives from business, education, labor, economic and workforce development developed these plans, which will identify and quantify short-term and long-term skills shortages, and create and implement regional solutions. According to the grant proposals, the initial funding awarded to Indiana’s 11 regions will be used to fully integrate regional workforce strategies that leverage the strengths of each area’s strongest industries and meets the needs of the future workforce needs to make Indiana globally competitive.”

Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody questioned the Holcomb administration’s apparent failure to look beyond the policies of previous Republican governors.

“Indiana is facing a workforce crisis. Why would Governor Holcomb turn to policies that, after more than a decade, have left more than a million Hoosiers without the skills they need to compete for good-paying jobs?” said Zody. They didn’t work then, why would they work now? Hoosiers – especially those who work in our local communities on workforce issues – are looking for bold solutions, not a reboot of policies that have left Hoosier workers behind. It’s clear our current trajectory won’t put Hoosiers on the fast-track toward bigger paychecks and better skills. We need a new gameplan but Governor Holcomb seems content to rely on the same ideas that have left our workforce well behind the pack.”

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