‘Skills’ move front and center in Indiana debates.

February 27, 2013

UPDATE: Skills2Compete–Indiana Coalition has successfully advanced an amendment that authorizes the Indiana Department of Workforce Development to coordinate cross-agency credential measurement activities for the state. The Indiana Senate Committee on Education and Career Development unanimously passed the amendment on March 20. Since the Indiana House of Representatives has already passed an earlier version of the bill, it now goes to a conference committee where the amendment is expected to stay in the bill. This means that Indiana would be following in the steps of Colorado, Maryland, and Rhode Island in carrying out cross-agency credential policy.

Legislation to create the Indiana Career Council is also moving forward. It has been passed by the full House and soon will be called up for a full Senate vote. Bill passage is very likely there as well.

February 27, 2013

With the 2013 session of Indiana’s General Assembly well underway, “skills” is moving to the center of the state’s education and economic development policy debates. Newly sworn in Governor Mike Pence is backing two major bills to close Indiana’s skills gap. The first piece of legislation would create the Indiana Career Council whose charge would be to align Indiana’s education and workforce development programs to current and projected skill demands of the labor market. The Governor would lead the effort and both public and private stakeholders would serve on the council. Legislation has also been filed to create regional councils in each of Indiana’s congressional districts for the purposes of directing more high school students toward skills training. Each regional council would be required to submit an evaluation of technical education opportunities currently available to high school students and then develop alternative career, technical or vocational educational curriculum, subject to the approval of the Indiana State Board of Education, to help more students earn an industry certification or credits towards associate degrees.

While the Skills2Compete–Indiana Coalition applauds the Governor for his commitment to closing the skills gap, it is also seeking opportunities to integrate recommendations from its policy platform into these proposals. Mainly, there is an opportunity to include tasks related to cross-agency credential measurement (CACM) as part of the Career Council’s responsibilities. By adding CACM to the Career Council’s functions, policymakers would be able to ascertain the numbers of students completing skills education and training programs across a range of state agencies and programs, such as private career schools, state and federal workforce programs, apprenticeships, and adult basic education; the nature, quality and quantity of new skills developed; and the credentials awarded. As a result of doing this work, policymakers would be able to set meaningful goals for raising the skills of their workforce, and ensure that they are best using every available education and training dollar to close persistent skill gaps.

In addition, the Coalition is shepherding a bill to allow residents with Individual Development Accounts to use savings towards the purchase of vehicles for the purposes of employment or enrollment in post-secondary education. The bill passed the Senate unanimously and the House will hear it in the coming weeks.