Arika Herron recently reported on what the $1 billion the State of Indiana spends each year on Workforce Development “looks like”. She tours the Haas Training Educational Center in Lebanon which offers a 15-week course called Right Skills Now CNC Machining. She describes a growing problem in Indiana; there are not enough skilled workers to fulfill the needs of local businesses. This phenomenon is sometimes referred to as the “skills gap”. Herron quotes Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb as saying “the state has 85,000 unfilled jobs because employers can’t find skilled workers.” In addition, according to Herron, Indiana has “475,000 [adults] without a high school diploma.”
With all of these jobs remaining unfilled, it is good that the State and the Haas Training Educational Center have partnered to “skill up” Indiana’s residents for the high-paying, high-demand jobs of the 21st century. It is especially good for the two men who are highlighted in the story, one a former graphic designer and the other a current Subaru employee. However, not all of Indiana’s residents are at a place in life where they are prepared financially, educationally, or emotionally for the rigors of a “15-week” training course like the one offered at Haas. Some of Indiana’s residents, like the aforementioned 475,000 without a high school diploma, or those who have experienced an extreme lack of stability in their lives, require a little more assistance to become ready for that type of training. And that is exactly what Fathers and Families Center offers.
2018 marks Fathers and Families Center’s 25th year of serving Marion County families. We provide a holistic continuum of programs and services to at-risk fathers to help move them and their families out of poverty and on to self-sufficiency and stability. Our approach is to remove existing barriers to self-sufficiency such as: lack of education and job training, addiction, family instability, and transportation. To accomplish this, Fathers and Families Center offers a 3-week class called Strong Fathers which focuses on parenting, life skills, and job readiness. We also have an onsite licensed mental health counselor who provides addiction and family counseling. Many of our program participants do not have their high school diploma so we employ a full time education specialist who helps prepare them for the high school equivalency test, a test which is offered on site and at no cost to Strong Fathers participants.
Fathers and Families Center has been very successful using this approach. As a result of our success we were 1 of 5 Indianapolis non-profits to be awarded EmployIndy’s Community Development Block Grant. This grant is meant to help organizations implement EmployIndy’s ABC initiative which stands for “A job, a Better job, a Career.” This year Fathers and Families Center will partner with a diverse group of local training providers such as Hoosier Occupational Training Services, Health and Science Innovation, The Indiana Plan, and Ivy Tech to offer advanced training opportunities to all of our participants and connect them with employers in need of fully trained and credentialed employees.
Fathers and Families Center supports the Governors workforce development initiative and thanks the IndyStar’s Arika Herron for bringing attention to it. The purpose of this response is to help complete the picture of what this initiative “looks like”. Indiana can and should offer funding for training programs like Haas, but if residents are not prepared to take part in them, they will not be as successful as they could be, and Indiana’s “skills gap” may not be closed anytime soon.