NE Indiana Hopes to Close Training Gap

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Noble County Economic Development and Northeast Indiana Works are hosting a meeting next week to discuss creation of a manufacturing and education alliance. Organizers say the goal is to make sure what is being taught in schools matches job needs of the county's largest employment sector. September 15, 2014

News Release

ALBION, Ind. -- The Noble County Economic Development Corp. and Northeast Indiana Works will host a meeting Sept. 23 to discuss the proposed formation of a Manufacturing and Education Alliance to ensure education and training match the job needs of the county’s largest employment sector.

The meeting will be from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Noble County Public Library in Albion, 813 E. Main St.

The health of the manufacturing sector is critical to the overall economic well-being of Noble County. Nearly 50 percent of all jobs in Noble County are in the manufacturing sector, according to figures supplied by the Community Research Institute at IPFW. The CRI analysis also shows that:

-Manufacturing accounts for 58 percent of all wages in Noble County.

-The average annual wage of people employed in the county’s manufacturing sector is $41,829 compared to $28,094 for all other employment sectors.

-Manufacturing employment in Noble County is expected to rise 4.8 percent in the next decade.

Rick Sherck, executive director of the Noble County EDC, said forming a group of manufacturers and education providers would help align education and training with employment needs; create an awareness of the importance of developing manufacturing career pathways in secondary schools; and highlight manufacturing’s transition to a highly technical industry offering family-sustaining wages.

Such collaborative work would also help Noble County contribute to northeast Indiana’s regional goal: ensuring that 60 percent of adults have high-quality credentials or degrees by 2025. Just 37 percent currently have credentials or degrees.

Such an alliance would also coincide with the Region 3 Works Council’s focus on helping facilitate industry connections with education systems and encouraging partnerships that lead to the development of career

opportunities. The state’s works councils, created by the legislature at the request of Gov. Mike Pence, have worked for the past 10 months in expanding regional relationships among business and educational partners.

“The need to align education and training opportunities with the skill requirements of Noble County employers has never been greater,” said Sherck. “If we are to compete in the new global marketplace in developing, retaining and attracting talent, it would be wise to pursue a systemic strategy that involves all of the critical parties.”

Added Kendallville Mayor SuzAnne Handshoe: “We are proud, hard-working people in Noble County. However, in order to retain and grow for tomorrow we need to have a well-trained and educated workforce to compete for the jobs of the future.”

The meeting Sept. 23 will be led by Sherck; Kathleen Randolph, president and CEO of Northeast Indiana Works and secretary of the Region 3 Works Council; and Gary Gatman, Northeast Indiana Works’ vice president for strategic initiatives.

Although Northeast Indiana Works and Noble County EDC are hosting the meeting, Sherck said it is the hope of the organizations that a manufacturing/education alliance become the prime driver in aligning education and training with employment needs. Northeast Indiana Works and the EDC, he said, would play strong supporting roles.

Already signed up to attend the meeting are 12 people representing West Noble School Corp., East Noble School Corp., Central Noble Community School Corp. and the Impact Institute, as well as 26 people representing 15 manufacturers.

“Noble County has a great opportunity to be a leader in forging pathways to exciting careers in 21st century manufacturing,” said Gatman. “Manufacturing today is a rapidly evolving, highly technical industry that requires advanced skills and knowledge to make the products that drive the regional and global economies.”

Said Theresa Peterson-Bajgrowicz, human resources director for Garrett-based manufacturer Group Dekko Inc.:

“We fully understand that to compete in today’s global marketplace, we must be pro-actively working to build our future talent. We have spent the last few years developing strong partnerships with educators to help us create a talent pipeline of future employees.

“Having solid employees is a keystone to our success and we know that events like this further our opportunity to connect with others in Noble County who are facing similar issues. There is no more critical issue facing manufacturing today than attracting top talent to careers now and into the future.”

People planning to attend the meeting Sept. 23 should RSVP by Sept. 19 to info@noblecountyedc.com.

Source: Noble County Economic Development, Northeast Indiana Works