Jared often hears that people feel they need to leave Lawrence County to have a career. We have many young people working in unskilled jobs in fast food, informal construction work, or are chronically unemployed. Many local jobs in manufacturing are under threat of automation. Labor is rapidly becoming a liability, not an asset. We need to train people for the jobs of the future in cybersecurity, renewable energy, information technology, advanced manufacturing, and the life sciences. Community skills-based training programs should strive to meet the needs of local employers, but we must also provide people with the knowledge, skills, exposure, and relationships to succeed in their chosen professions.
Expand Access to Community College and Workforce Development Initiatives While Providing Incentives to Graduate
Jared has heard that many people want to learn new skills, but the cost is usually the primary barrier. Jared would like to establish a program that awards people for performance and completion. At Ivy Tech, just 8% of students graduate within 3 years.
“I want to go to school again, I just don’t want to go into debt. I can barely pay my electric bill.”
The State of Indiana can pay the loans for people in community college and workforce development programs based upon their level of performance once they complete the program. Anyone living in a household in Indiana making below $50,000 who completes local community college programs in select programs such as cybersecurity, renewable energy, information technology, biotechnology, and advanced manufacturing will be required to own the risk by taking out government loans, which will be paid by the State upon completion of the program. We need to pay for successful outcomes.
Jared has heard from local cybersecurity firms in Lawrence County that many job applicants come from outside of the area and that people do not need a four-year degree in cybersecurity to enter the field. He would like to ensure that workforce development programs allow people to pursue certifications in computer repair (A+), network administration (Network+), and certifications in cybersecurity (Security+, Advanced Cybersecurity Practitioner, and Certified Information Security Systems Professional, Certified Ethical Hacker.) so that they can become highly proficient employees with local cybersecurity employers.
Renewable energy is seeing more global investment, and one of the fastest growing careers that do not require a college degree is wind turbine technician. Solar and wind are growing 12 times faster than other industries, while fossil fuel and coal jobs continue to decline. Jared would like to see young people enter workforce development programs to have the skills to succeed in technical careers in building and maintaining renewable energy systems and equipment.
Advanced manufacturing is seeing increased automation and an increase in the demand for people who are skilled in additive manufacturing (3D printing) and cloud manufacturing, which allows people to download files for parts and have them automatically created on site. Jared would like to see people trained with the knowledge, skills, and experience using cutting-edge technologies, including those that integrate artificial intelligence, data visualization, and machine learning.
We must not train people for the jobs that will not be around in 5-10 years. Many people graduating high school will enter careers that do not exist yet. We must also equip people with the critical thinking and problem-solving skills so that they can face the complex business challenges of the 21st century.
Data is the new oil, and global economic growth is primarily driven by technological innovations. Training people on how to better integrate information technology into their existing businesses to increase their capacity to do business on a global scale can ensure that local businesses can satisfy a global demand for their services. From building Web 2.0 websites, using project management software, supply chain management programs, leveraging social media, and cloud-based financial management systems, we can get our businesses to be competitive on a global scale.
Life Sciences & Biotechnology
Innovative companies such as Cook Medical, Eli Lilly, and Anthem call Indiana home. They are also among the largest companies in the state. We must invest in workforce development programs that prepare them to meet the needs of our largest employers in areas such as biomedical device manufacturing, supply chain management, project management, and sales. We can do this by investing in community college programs that fit their needs and expanding access to certification programs.