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Area Career Center classes

Bryan Barajas demonstrates welding an overhead lap joint during a class at the Hammond Area Career Center.

John J. Watkins, The Times

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana and 19 other states, including Illinois, announced Thursday that they are partnering through the Skillful State Network to promote and implement policies that encourage skills-based hiring at in-demand jobs.

According to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, the goal is to identify and share state strategies that favor worker training in employer-demanded competencies or skills, rather than focusing on individuals earning a college degree or other credential.

The Hoosier State already is implementing worker training initiatives along those lines through Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb's Next Level Jobs program, as well as the recently adopted high school graduation pathways that require career training or work experience as a condition of earning an Indiana high school diploma.

Holcomb said getting to share what Indiana has learned with other states, and, in turn, benefiting from their best practices "will strengthen our talent pool, meet employer demand and put hardworking Hoosiers in high-need, high-wage careers of the future."

The Skillful State Network is an outgrowth of the Skillful program, funded by the Markle Foundation and Microsoft Philanthropies, that has been deployed in Colorado to get employers the talent they need and help individuals acquire new skills as the economy changes.

"Governors have asked me to bring Skillful to their state and forming the Skillful State Network is a way to share our approach, tools and assets quickly," said Zoe Baird, Markle Foundation president.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, said his state's experience with Skillful "has provided incredible value in supporting a skills-based, industry-driven talent marketplace."


Dan is Statehouse Bureau Chief for The Times. Since 2009, he's reported on Indiana government and politics — and how both impact the Region — from the state capital in Indianapolis. He originally is from Orland Park, Ill.