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2019 Letters to the editor stock

It’s impossible to have any business conversation today without the workforce issue coming up.

Results of the Indiana Chamber’s latest annual employer survey highlights the challenges facing Hoosier companies.

For the first time, more than half of the survey respondents left jobs unfilled in the past year due to underqualified applicants. The 51 percent total is the fifth consecutive increase, starting with 39 percent in 2014.

Another concern: One-third responded that filling their workforce/talent needs is their biggest challenge. The total climbs to 80 percent when adding employers who cite workforce needs as one of their biggest challenges.

These alarming trends got our attention. The Indiana Chamber recently announced the formation of the Institute for Workforce Excellence, which is dedicated to helping businesses attract, develop and retain the talent they need.

The institute has a number of offerings currently in place. An exclusive partnership with Ivy Tech Community College on the Achieve Your Degree initiative provides a 5 percent tuition rebate. The Indiana INTERNnet statewide internship matching program can lead to new hires, while Indiana Workforce Recovery guides employers on how they can help workers with opioid or other substance misuse.

Various employee education and training opportunities are also available, with additional strategic partnerships anticipated for 2019 that will lead to more statewide programs and initiatives.

The lost business opportunities from workforce deficits are real and have a negative impact on these companies, their existing employees and the overall economy.

The state must continue to develop, implement and communicate effective training programs, while employers have the responsibility to investigate all options for increasing the skills of their associates. Attracting more workers to the state is also paramount.

We hope the new Institute (www.indianachamber.com/workforce) will enable the business community to further engage and ultimately help move our workforce forward.

Kevin Brinegar, president, Indiana Chamber of Commerce, Indianapolis

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Editor

Marc Chase is a veteran investigative reporter, columnist and editor of more than two decades. He currently leads The Times news staff as local news editor. He can be reached at 219-933-3327.