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Career coaches from across Indiana presented to panels of business leaders Nov. 7 with recommendations for how to improve career services. The Skillful Governor’s Coaching Corps — a program that’s part of Skillful Indiana — is made up of action teams that began working in March. They focused on topics ranging from how to help the underemployed to creating a one-stop-shop for job seekers. The first team to present argued that there is too much attention on the unemployed, which is to the detriment of the underemployed, or those who have a job (or two or three) but don’t make as much money as what they’re qualified for and often don’t get the benefits, including health care, that come with a full-time job. Cyndi Harbin, state workforce readiness director at the Indiana affiliate for the Society for Human Resource Management, said the resources are out there, but barriers that are often overlooked — transportation, current work schedule, kids’ activities — get in the way. In other words, a single mother of three can find time to get to the career center, but can she get there when it’s open? “We’re too concentrated on finding employment for folks,” Harbin said, “and those folks that are working, we feel that they’re OK with where they’re at, when in fact they’re not. They’re struggling.” The team’s presentation included a statewide survey where 40% of respondents said they were working full time but underpaid. Their solutions included adding virtual assistants and job coaches to the state’s Indiana Career Ready website. The state did a pilot program for virtual job coaches in 2014 but didn’t fully implement it, said Brandy Bast of Goodwill Industries of Central and Southern. Fred Payne, commissioner of the Department of Workforce Development, was on the panel. Another action team concentrated on how to create new models for finding work. They suggested a physical one-stop-shop that would include a child care center, Ivy Tech classrooms, veteran services and other resources. The center would be anchored by WorkOne, which is part of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development and has offices around the state. They also suggested working with employers to get rid of unnecessary credential requirements on job postings. Bill Turner, executive director of Skillful Indiana, said part of the program is about “trying to change how employers look at job seekers.” Where it’s appropriate, Turner would like employers to prioritize skills over a degree or certificate. Tammy Gibson, from WorkOne Allen County, was part of the action team and said those requirements can be discouraging for people who want a certain job and are otherwise qualified to have it. “From the job-seekers’ perspective, it eliminates them,” she said. “So they think that they’re not qualified for these jobs. That’s why we’re shooting for posting these jobs based off your skills.” Gibson said she would also like employers to pay more attention to soft skills, such as problem solving and communication, that don’t necessarily come through on a resume or degree. Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.
According to a slew of economists, a recession is on the horizon. While its severity and timing are widely debated, employers are reading the proverbial writing on the wall and taking steps now to prepare for the economic storms ahead. Recession plans will naturally differ between industries and individual employers. But they will all take the company’s workforce into consideration. How quickly can the workforce switch gears when priorities change? When the rubber meets the road, how will you decide what competencies are critical to the company’s health and survival? The answers to these questions lie in skills-based talent management practices. Employers that prioritize skills specific to the job (both foundational competencies and occupational abilities) can be better prepared than companies that use traditional talent management practices. Those traditional practices tend to overly rely on proxies for skills, such as degrees, certificates and background, to guide their recruiting, onboarding and training processes. Using traditional approaches can hurt employers by excluding great talent that can support companies as they weather economic storms.
You've seen the job description before: Growing company seeks dedicated professional for exciting midcareer position. Must have strong leadership skills, excellent written and oral communication and ability to work with others. Requirements: Five years of experience and bachelor's or post-graduate degree. Career and business experts say job descriptions that use degree requirements and years of experience as proxies for employability may be one reason some employers are having a difficult time finding people with skills that match their jobs. In Indiana, some employers are having such a hard time that they are leaving jobs unfilled, according to the latest employer workforce survey from the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, its Institute for Workforce Excellence and the workforce nonprofit Skillful Indiana. Nearly half of the 12th annual survey's respondents said they didn't fill available jobs this year due to the pool of underqualified job seekers. The survey's result highlights the challenges Hoosier employers face when grappling with the state's labor shortage. "Employers are really recognizing that there’s sort of a new normal here and the old ways of finding talent maybe aren’t sufficient anymore," said Jason Bearce, the Indiana Chamber's vice president of education and workforce development. "Posting an open position and waiting for the right candidates to walk through the door doesn’t seem to work the way it once did." Unmet needs in the Indiana workforce In its 12th year, the employer workforce survey provides a snapshot into what Indiana employers are thinking and their concerns. It also helps the chamber identify business trends. "Looking back a year ago, we really kind of reached the pinnacle of employers struggling with this talent challenge," Bearce said. "For the first time in the decade plus history that we’ve given this survey, more than half of employers were forced to leave positions open." The chamber said 1,005 respondents from 89 of the state's 92 counties took part in the the survey administered Aug. 4-27. Sectors represented in the survey include manufacturing, construction, health care and social assistance as well as professional, scientific and technical fields. The respondents said half the applicant pool this year did not meet their needs. Bearce attributes this to several reasons, including a shortage of skilled and unskilled workers and job descriptions that don't clearly explain what employers want. "One of the reasons we’re partnering with Skillful is that we think there’s a lot of talent out there that employers aren’t necessarily tapping into," Bearce said. Minimum qualifications for many jobs note requirements such as a high school or college degree. But employers, he said, now recognize that they have to re-examine their hiring practices and be proactive about seeking the talent they need in the future. Hiring adjustments for employers Many employers seem to have accepted their reality and are making adjustments to fill labor gaps in their organization, the survey found. "A slowing national economy, tariffs and ongoing trade disputes are some of the potential concerns for employers today compared to recent years," said Kevin Brinegar, Indiana Chamber president and CEO. "But, given some of the survey responses, another strategy seems to be accepting that the talent shortage is not going to change anytime soon and simply finding alternative methods for dealing with it." Respondents overwhelming said they are willing to hire an individual with less education or skills than they desire and give them on-the-job training. But only 23% said they have actually hired underqualified job seekers. The number of employers using existing staff to train co-workers decreased from 67% last year to 55% this year. Still, many were not using educational partnerships, workforce training programs or strategies like jobs shadowing, internships and apprenticeships to help fill labor gaps. "It's essential that companies look to take advantage of some of the many workforce resources that are available," Brinegar said. "A 'going it alone' strategy typically will not lead to the desired outcome." The need for skills-based hiring This is the first year the chamber partnered with Skillful Indiana to produce the survey. Skillful Indiana is a nonprofit initiative that aims to help workers — particularly those without a degree — secure a good job in a changing economy. The nonprofit expanded to Indiana after working in Colorado for several years and encourages employers to craft job descriptions that state the skills and competencies they are seeking rather than years of experience and degree requirements. "Would you put a bachelor's degree if you really don't need it for the job?" said Bill Turner, the nonprofit's executive director. "You've reduced your talent pool drastically, and so we're saying let's increase that talent pool by taking that degree and certificate off." Traditionally, employers have relied on degrees and certifications as proxies to a worker's depth of skills and employability, Turner said. The practice has traditionally been used to toss resumes and can omit job seekers who may actually have the skills needed to do a job well. “They think that if you have that degree or you have that certificate or whatever that you also have those skills. That’s not always the case," he said. Skillful Indiana argues employers have a better chance of finding job seekers that match their needs by using skills-based hiring rather than relying on proxies to narrow candidate pools. Turner said the nonprofit is not anti-degree or certificate. He understands that doctors, nurses and other professions require degree credentials, but he argues that degrees and credentials should not be used to eliminate job seekers if the position advertised doesn't require them. This year's survey revealed that about 45% of employers have an awareness of skills-based hiring, saying they measure skills rather than educational attainment and credentials. About 45% of respondents also said they believe applicants are not attracted to the communities where their companies are located. Employers also indicated that they are not optimistic about expanding their workforce in the future. Contact IndyStar reporter Alexandria Burris at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter: @allyburris.
Headlines, white papers and studies say AI and robotics will trigger massive job losses in the future. But the technologies that we have today — from spreadsheets to smartphones — have already upended millions of jobs. Why it matters: The jobs that have changed most dramatically over the last decade are lower-paying ones that are often located in economically distressed parts of the country. The disruption is adding pressure on Americans who are already struggling. The big picture: Much of the scholarship on the future of work looks ahead to predict which industries will change in the years to come. A new report from the Markle Foundation, a nonprofit that studies technology's impact on society, looks backward instead — identifying the jobs that have already transformed and require far more tech skills than they did just 10 years ago. "The public narrative seems to be around the big, seismic shifts in the workplace," says Michele Chang, a director at the Markle Foundation. "We're trying to call attention to the smaller, day-to-day impact. If you add up all of the small changes, it's big."
Read any report on the future of work and you will likely hear about the looming automation of large swaths of jobs and growing gaps of AI and computer programming skills. While these issues deserve attention, they mask an important but far more subtle shift in the world of work. Entirely new fields and functions are being created at a breakneck pace, and nearly every job is changing. And even incremental changes are—in aggregate—having profound effects. From the engineers designing planes, to the mechanics repairing them, to the office workers handling process management or sales, workers are feeling the pressure to adapt and evolve the way they work. According to a recent report from the McKinsey Global Institute, while today’s technology threatens just 5% of occupations with complete automation-driven obsolescence, far more jobs (60%) could have nearly a third (30%) of their work activity automated with the application of already-existing technology, dramatically changing the work experience of most occupations. Against that backdrop, there is a risk that in our race to close the most acute skill gaps, we might overlook the impact of technology on a much broader segment of our workforce. This paper describes that risk as a “Digital Blindspot” that, in many ways, reflects the way the human brain understands and evaluates risk: we tend to worry more about the unknown than things we know and can control.
Felix W. Ortiz III is the founder, chairman, and CEO of Viridis Learning, a cloud-based, SaaS technology platform that integrates with existing student information systems, government databases and labor market information to connect students to employers. Viridis Learning believes that technology can be used to enable the creation of the Skills PassportTM, a permanent employment record that has currency in the ever-evolving employment market. Ortiz is a social impact entrepreneur dedicated to the power of economic mobilization through the pathway of education and skill development. Through his work at Viridis Learning, Ortiz drives change by mobilizing the middle-skill workforce and leveling the employment playing field for young people and underserved communities. With a distinct veteran and entrepreneurial perspective, Felix understands the difficulties that many people face as they enter today’s employment market. Lacking the right skills and resources, he founded Viridis Learning when he discovered gaps in the system that provided a disadvantage to many. Through the creation of the Skills PassportTM, the data-driven employment ledger retains lifetime access of students’ verified knowledge, skills and ability, creating an evolved pathway to relevant career opportunities. As a social impact tech serial entrepreneur, Ortiz has always focused on creating companies that do well by doing good. Lending his voice to making a change, Ortiz has used his platform to speak out about the lack of venture capital funding for Hispanic & African American tech entrepreneurs. Ortiz’s ambitious work has broken down silos between education and employment by shifting the antiquated processes that many systems adhere to. Committing much of his personal and professional life to the development and mobilization of marginalized communities, Ortiz serves on several boards including as a Member of The Board of Directors to the New York City Technology Development Corporation, NY Hall of Science and the Osborne Foundation.
In May, Gov. Jared Polis signed a bipartisan bill into law funding full-day kindergarten for Coloradan kids starting this fall — a transformational investment in our state’s future. When I heard the news, I naturally thought of how I felt when my daughter, Addison, reached kindergarten age. I learned that even though she was going to go to a public elementary school, only a partial day of kindergarten would be covered. I would be responsible for the remaining costs, which were high. As a single working mom, I was shocked that the system didn’t provide more assistance for parents and their children.