INDIANAPOLIS | The idea to better align public and private educational and employer training programs with the needs of Hoosier companies remained more aspirational than actual during Monday's first-ever meeting of the Indiana Career Council.
Gov. Mike Pence presented the initial work product of the 16-member panel, an inventory of job and career training programs that consisted of several 2010-13 workforce reports from various state agencies bound together.
The 142-page document lacked the specificity called for in the council's unanimously approved establishing legislation, House Enrolled Act 1002, and had no information from private-sector programs. Pence even described it as "a bit of a primer" intended to meet the law's Aug. 1 inventory submission deadline.
Nevertheless, the Republican governor said he has high hopes and even higher expectations for the career council that's set to meet monthly over the next year.
"Our objective is nothing less than to recognize the challenge that we face — what experts call the 'skills gap' — and to think fresh in this state about workforce education," Pence said.
He suggested up to 1 million Hoosier adults (out of a total population of 6.5 million) lack the education and training necessary to obtain the kinds of jobs that will help them individually and improve the state as a whole.
"There are thousands of jobs that are going unfilled because businesses can't find men and women with the background and the training and the skills to fill those jobs," Pence said. "If we close that skills gap by being smarter in the use of federal resources and state resources, we're going to go a long way toward getting our state's economy moving again and creating expanded opportunities for all our citizens."
That message resonated with state Sen. Frank Mrvan, D-Hammond, the Senate Democrats' representative on the panel, which also includes other political, business, labor and state agency leaders.
"The Marine Corps has a saying — 'hard charge,'" Mrvan said. "That means when you have a problem — and we have a big problem with unemployment — you have a maximum effort to do everything that you know to do."