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NW Indiana Workforce Summit Emphasizes Alignment of Efforts to Compete in Nation’s Job Wars
November 25, 2014 » On Thursday, November 20, the Northwest Indiana Workforce Board hosted 250 people at their 2014 Workforce Summit. The half day event at the Avalon Manor in Merrillville featured a general session and breakout sessions that drew employers, economic and workforce development executives, chamber executives, community and business leaders, education administrators, and local elected officials. At the general session, attendees heard highlights from the NW Indiana Workforce Board’s newly published State Workforce Report, of which they received a copy of at the end of the program. Linda Woloshansky, President & CEO of the Center of Workforce Innovations told the crowd that NW Indiana is in job wars with the rest of the world and that only through a focused and collaborative effort will they position themselves as a competitive region of choice. “Our realization of this need and opportunity has really propelled us forward to work together in leveraging our talents, time, and treasure more effectively and in alignment with each other,” said Woloshansky. The job wars have served as a vehicle for the NW Indiana Workforce Board and its WorkOne system to place greater emphasis on high-wage, high-demand sector based training in collaboration with many sitting in the audience. Woloshansky added that it’s also accelerated the initiatives of the Region 1 Works Council as they work carefully on the Career and Technical Education agenda. Indiana Beverage general manager and NW Indiana Workforce Board member, George Douglas, carried on thoughts of working together and challenged the employers in the audience to find new ways to be full partners with educators and other community leaders in preparing the workforce. Following his challenge, Senator Ed Charbonneau introduced Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann, who was greeted with a standing ovation. Ellspermann presented details about the Governor’s Strategic Plan and the installation of the Indiana Career Council and the Regional Workforce Councils. Ellspermann said that transforming Indiana’s workforce to meet the demands of current and future jobs was “the most critical challenge in Indiana.” Following the general session presentations, attendees moved into four interactive moderated breakout sessions that included the Two Plan A’s: Charting a Path to Success-moderator was Kris Emaus, Chair of the Regional Works Council and NW Indiana Workforce Board member; It Takes Two to Tango—Economic Development and Workforce Development-moderator was Heather Ennis, CEO of the Northwest Indiana Forum; Work and Learn Opportunities Provide a Solid ROI-moderated by Sandra Alvarez, Business Consultant with the Center of Workforce Innovation; and The BIG Goal: 60 by 2025-moderated by Roy Vanderford, Director of Workforce Strategies with the Center of Workforce Innovations and READY NWI. For further information about the 2014 Workforce Summit, contact Barb Grimsgard, Communications Manager at the Center of Workforce Innovations at 219-462-2940, ext. 28 or firstname.lastname@example.org.Learn more »
Indiana manufacturers say they are optimistic about future, survey reveals
November 11, 2014 » Indiana manufacturers are upbeat about their prospects for future growth, according to a survey released today, yet their enthusiasm is tempered somewhat by concerns over increased regulation, rising energy costs and a shortage of skilled workers. The manufacturing survey put together by the Indianapolis accounting firm of Katz, Sapper & Miller and Indiana University's Kelley School of Business is based on responses from companies across the state. Nearly 50 percent of the businesses that responded are in the industrial equipment, automotive, or aerospace and defense manufacturing sectors, and 88 percent of them are headquartered in the United States. According to the survey, 72 percent of respondents said they anticipated moderate economic growth in Indiana through 2015, while 52 percent of respondents predicted similar moderate growth for the U.S. economy. Forty-seven percent of respondents said they saw "healthy" financial performance in 2012-2013, while 35 percent characterized it as "stable" and 17 percent described it as "challenged." Less than 35 percent of companies identified their financial performance as "healthy" in last year's survey. And just three years ago, 47 percent of respondents said their financial performance was "challenged." The percentage of respondents who said they plan on opening a new manufacturing facility Indiana increased from 8 percent last year to 20 percent this year, and of those planning to expand, more than half said the new facilities will be used to produce new and existing products. And yet, the percentage of companies that plan on "offshoring" production over the next year rose to 10 percent from 7 percent of respondents the previous year. They cited skilled overseas labor and lower labor costs as the main reasons for doing so. Perhaps the biggest challenge manufacturing companies face is finding skilled workers. Thirty-one percent of companies indicated a serious shortage of skilled production workers, and 38 percent said they feared a serious shortage of skilled production workers in the next three to five years. In addition, manufacturing companies are rejecting job candidates because they don't possess rudimentary job skills; 70 percent of respondents said rejected candidates lacked basic skills such as regular attendance, timeliness and work ethic. Roughly two-thirds of respondents identified four chief issues that could affect future growth: Indiana's business health care laws and regulations (67 percent); Indiana's infrastructure and logistics, and the state's corporate tax policy (both 66 percent); and Indiana's property tax policy (65 percent). More specifically, 73 percent of respondents said they were concerned about changes to the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, while 53 percent said they worried about new regulations to control greenhouse gas emissions. Another 46 percent said the cost of electricity "highly" affected their businesses, and 45 percent said it "somewhat" affected their businesses. Barry Rochford, Star ©Copyright 2014 KPC Media Group, Inc.Learn more »
Polarized Labor Markets and the Supply and Demand of Unskilled Workers
November 6, 2014 » High-skilled and low-skilled workers face very different futures in this economy. In recent years, average wages in the U.S. have stagnated. This means that wages for some workers have declined while wages for others have risen. Understanding why this has happened is important for any policy discussion. In economic theory, wages are largely determined by the productivity of workers. As worker productivity rises, so too will wages. However, productivity in this context is how much benefit the workers themselves add to overall production, not just the total value of goods produced by each worker. Let me offer an example. Imagine a highly skilled worker, such as a cabinetmaker, computer programmer or surgeon. Each will have perhaps many tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of tools, and each will produce goods or services worth from several hundred to several thousand dollars per day. People in these occupations spend years in education and training, and the equipment they use is impractical in the hands of an unskilled worker. So, each of these folks receive earnings that are principally determined by the individual value each brings to their job. In contrast, imagine a worker in a highly robotic assembly plant, surrounded by tens of millions of dollars of machinery. This worker might also be skilled, but in this case most of the value of the goods produced comes from the contribution of the machines, not the worker. In both examples workers might be highly skilled and well paid, but there the difference ends. The highest share of income goes to the worker whose skills matter most to the production process. But this is only part of the story. In the first example, there’s very little that can be done to make the machines matter more than the worker. If we want more cabinets, computer programs and medical care, we’ll need more of these skilled folks. In the second example, there’s little incentive to replace the workers because they represent such a small share of the cost of production. In each of these cases, workers will be in demand and the economy can grow continuously as long as they are available. But what happens to unskilled workers? Unless they are training for a new position, workers with poor skills won’t be in demand in either setting. Even in these cases, workers without the prospects of acquiring these skills and the dependable work habits that these jobs require just aren’t needed. The result is that the American labor force is slowly becoming polarized. At one end are highly skilled, dependable, well compensated workers. At the other end is workers who are either not highly skilled or not dependable, so will have lower wages. Alas, there’s not much more to the story. It isn’t the decline of unions or the rise of Wall Street fat cats that have caused this. It is the inevitable decline in demand for low-skilled workers at a time when we are supplied with an abundance of them. Until that changes, expect more of the same. Link to this commentary: http://commentaries.cberdata.org/756/polarized-labor-markets-and-the-supply-and-demand-of-unskilled-workers October 19, 2014 Author: Michael J. Hicks, PhD, is the director of the Center for Business and Economic Research and the George and Frances Ball distinguished professor of economics in the Miller College of Business at Ball State University. Hicks earned doctoral and master’s degrees in economics from the University of Tennessee and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Virginia Military Institute. He has authored two books and more than 60 scholarly works focusing on state and local public policy, including tax and expenditure policy and the impact of Wal-Mart on local economies.Learn more »
Look At You! (And All Your Skills)
3522 Village Circle, Gary IN | 10:30am to 12:00pm Identify your current and hidden skills and what it takes to rejuvenate your career. Learn what information is essential when building an effective resume and completing job applications successfully.View Event »
Improving Your Work Experience
3522 Village Circle, Gary, IN | 9:00 to 10:30am This unique and one-of-a-kind workshop provides you with the strategies and skill in order to provide top-notch customer service. Topics include: dealing with difficult people, preventative maintenance, effective listening and constructive confrontation. Whether you’re in union trade jobs or executive management – we all have customers to attend to – whether they’re clients, co-workers, bosses or supervisors. Customer service is all around and it’s essential that we communicate our helping hand with professionalism.View Event »
Smart Bright Ideas...Credit & Budget
5265 Hohman Avenue, Hammond, IN | 1:30 to 3:00pm Going broke? Living check to check? We educate and encourage all clients to bank wisely and achieve the financial freedom they deserve. Getting your finances in check is this workshop's priority.View Event »