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New organization promoting skills-based hiring to Indiana employers

Beth Cobert, Skillful CEO, announces Thursday in the State Library the launch of Skillful Indiana to promote skills-based hiring to Hoosier employers. She was joined on stage, seated from left, by Danny Lopez, Governor's Workforce Cabinet chairman; Mary Snapp, head of Microsoft Philanthropies; and Gov. Eric Holcomb.

INDIANAPOLIS — A new organization aims to help Hoosier employers recognize the value of skills training when hiring employees for their facilities, rather than just simply looking for workers with a college degree.

Skillful Indiana, which launched Thursday, is based on a Colorado program that successfully has expanded employment opportunities for individuals with non-traditional education backgrounds, while helping residents tailor their skills to meet employer needs.

Officials at the Markle Foundation said they selected Indiana as the second Skillful state because Hoosier leaders already are keenly focused on developing a skills-based labor market through the state's education and workforce development agencies.

"We are incredibly impressed with the extraordinary work going on in Indiana," said Beth Cobert, Skillful CEO.

"With Skillful Indiana, we see a tremendous opportunity to bring additional resources, national partners and road-tested programming to contribute to the exciting things happening here."

Over the next 10 years, Indiana is projected to require more than 1 million skilled workers to fill open jobs and support economic growth.

Skillful promises to help meet that need by providing training programs for both small and large, urban and rural employers; promoting post-secondary education initiatives; and supporting career coaches to guide Hoosiers navigating educational and job opportunities.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb, who repeatedly has declared his intention to "skill-up" Indiana workers, said with Skillful's help it will be easier for Hoosiers to become lifelong learners and continually acquire the skills in demand by businesses.

"Skillful Indiana is the exact right next piece of this puzzle to modernize our workforce efforts," Holcomb said.

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Statehouse Bureau Chief

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.