IE 11 Not Supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

Collaboration Supports Indiana's Changing Workforce Needs

The state of Indiana is working to improve its workforce through a collaborative effort that spans across the public, nonprofit, private and education sectors to meet evolving workforce needs.

The state of Indiana is taking a collaborative approach to address some of the looming workforce challenges that employers in the state are seeing.

From a platform that integrates AI into the job search and skills training to workforce development programs, like the State Earn and Learn program (SEAL), the state of Indiana has developed a reputation for taking a proactive approach to workforce enhancement.

David Adams, commissioner of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development (DWD), explained that the state’s workforce challenges are similar to those being seen in other states around the country: The demand for qualified workers outweighs the available talent. The shifting and increasingly tech-based economy is also driving the need for workers with digital literacy skills, Adams added.

“Given the pace of change, we all have to learn to partner in new and creative ways, and so the state of Indiana by itself can’t solve this problem,” Adams stated. “We’re all in this together, and so we really got to live that in terms of leveraging each other's strengths in order to help solve this problem.”

The Central Indiana Corporate Partnership (CICP) — which allows the state to work with different corporations, foundations and universities — has been a valuable part of this effort.

TechPoint, one of the organizations within the CICP, recently released its 2023 Indiana Tech Workforce Report, which offers current market data about supply and demand for tech talent in the state.

According to Dennis Trinkle, senior vice president of talent, strategy and partnerships for TechPoint, the report underlines a major evolution in workforce demand: To some degree, every company is now a tech company. Instead of only considering big tech companies like Amazon and Google, the report underlines that tech and tech-related workers are critical to employers in every industry segment.

Experts agree that the workforce is changing, and the demand for talent with digital skills is increasing. The report suggests three strategies to combat this need: digital adoption, inclusive hiring and tech talent investment.

Given the high demand for talent, government must work even harder to offer creative solutions to attract, develop, and retain talent, Trinkle noted.

“For the last 30 years … the amount of tech talent has consistently outpaced the amount of tech talent that was needed,” Trinkle said. With fewer people entering the workforce, companies can no longer rely solely on talent attraction because the talent pool itself is shrinking. “What you see out of the data in the report is that employers now need to focus on IT talent development and invest in talent development as much as talent attraction.”

Part of the group’s work is to help employers see that what they had done before is no longer enough; they have to build their own IT talent development pipelines and rework processes, as well as build an inclusive culture to retain talent, Trinkle explained.

A major initiative in this space is Mission 41K, which aims to bring 41,000 jobs to the state of Indiana by 2030, and was launched in September 2022. The initiative brings together individuals across sectors, including Indiana employers, higher education institutions and government agencies to create new solutions and a strong path forward.

According to Adams, the initiative will help the state become more laser-focused on employer needs and developing individual skill sets, as well as connecting those individuals to employers in the state.

“What’s really important about the work that TechPoint’s doing is they’ve gone out and done the research in terms of engaging with employers to really understand what are the knowledge, skills and ability needed today, and what’s going to be needed in the future,” Adams said.

Through the collaborative relationship between the Indiana Office of Technology and DWD, the adult apprenticeship program, SEAL, was launched. Trinkle explained that this program allows agencies to hire contingent workers from other occupations who go through an apprenticeship experience to develop IT skills.

Another way the state is working to expand its talent pool is through the recently announced elimination of degree requirements in certain jobs, an approach that has been gaining traction in Maryland, also.

And as Adams explained, this comes from a recognition that employers' hiring criteria can no longer be categorized specifically by degree or experience, but rather by skills, knowledge and abilities. Fortunately, he believes those skills gaps can be filled by partnering with training providers to develop talent needed for the state’s evolving workforce.
Julia Edinger is a staff writer for Government Technology. She has a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Toledo and has since worked in publishing and media. She's currently located in Southern California.