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(STATEHOUSE) -- In a rare joint announcement, House Speaker Brian C. Bosma (R-Indianapolis) and Minority Leader Scott Pelath (D-Michigan City) discussed a proposal embodied in House Bill 1002 which is designed to improve coordination, communication and vision for Indiana's workforce training and career preparation systems. The legislative leaders, joined by co-authors Reps. Steve Braun (R-Zionsville) and Ben Smaltz (R-Auburn), announced the proposal to establish the Indiana Career Council (ICC), a 15- member panel designed to bring the principal stakeholders in the state's workforce development efforts to a single table, with the Governor as its chair. The legislators were also joined by Kevin Brinegar, President and CEO of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and Patrick J. Kiely, President and CEO of the Indiana Manufacturers Association, who announced their combined support for HB 1002 and its intent to take the state's workforce development efforts to the next level.

"The single most critical challenge before this General Assembly is the issue of workforce development and job training.  While Indiana is consistently ranked best in the Midwest in job creation environment, our unemployment rate hovers stubbornly at 8 percent.  We must make every effort to align our job training and educational efforts to available and prospective Hoosier jobs. The ICC will bring the key players together to unite a fragmented system, share data and coordinate all elements of the state's workforce development efforts" said Speaker Bosma.

"While we may disagree at times on the methods used to reach the goal, legislators on both sides of the aisle are fully committed to the effort to help Hoosier workers find and retain good-paying jobs," Pelath said. "The greatest economic development tools we have in Indiana are the men and women who take pride in doing an honest day's work. It only makes sense for us to put the machinery in place to let them get the skills they need to continue to provide for themselves and their families."

More than 930,000 Hoosiers -- nearly one-third of Indiana's workforce -- lack even the most basic skills to thrive in today's economy.  Members of the ICC will be charged with aligning the education skills and training provided by Indiana's educational, job skills and career training systems with the existing and projected needs of the state's job market. The ICC will also be charged with submitting recommendations to the General Assembly on necessary improvements to Indiana's job skills training system.

"The establishment of the Indiana Career Council represents a significant high-level commitment to better organizing Indiana's job training efforts and ultimately improving the job skills of Hoosiers," offers Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar. "And the Indiana business community is ready to do its part. As I talk to business leaders around the state, I can confirm that the talent gap is very real. There are thousands of jobs available today that are going unfilled because employers simply can't find candidates with the needed skills."

Sixty-seven percent of manufacturing companies are reporting a moderate to severe shortage of available, qualified workers. Fifty-six percent of those expect the shortage to increase in the next three years. Indiana is the most manufacturing-intensive state in the country; manufacturing comprises 25 percent of Indiana's gross state product.

"In recent years, Indiana has taken numerous steps to create a positive business climate in an effort to attract and retain high-wage and high-skill jobs for Hoosier workers.  Indiana ranks high in all business state-by-state comparisons; however, one area that has hindered growth has been the shortage of skilled workers.  House Bill 1002 is a positive step in the coordination and review of all skills training programs that currently exist in our state.  This effort will help identify successful programs and also shine the light on those that need improvement or elimination. Having a skilled workforce is critical to Indiana's manufacturers," said Patrick J. Kiely, President and CEO, Indiana Manufacturers Association.

The bill will be scheduled next Tuesday for a hearing in the House Committee on Government and Regulatory Reform.


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