'Game-Changer' Skillful Program Coming to Indiana

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Mary Snapp with Microsoft Philanthropies was among those at Thursday's announcement. Mary Snapp with Microsoft Philanthropies was among those at Thursday's announcement.
INDIANAPOLIS -

A national nonprofit has chosen Indiana as the next state for its Skillful initiative, designed to help workers, especially those without four-year college degrees, find good jobs in a changing economy. The New York-based Markle Foundation is working with partners including Microsoft Philanthropies, Walmart and Purdue University on the workforce development effort. Skillful, which began in Colorado, helps workers partner with companies to identify skills they already have and find better pathways to internal or external training programs to fill the gaps.

Other partners in the effort include the Indianapolis-based Lumina Foundation, LinkedIn, Purdue Extension and the Governor's Workforce Cabinet. Governor Eric Holcomb calls Skillful coming to Indiana a "game-changer." He says Skillful will be a "force multiplier - strengthening and building upon workforce efforts already underway to connect people with the skills they need for high-wage, high-demand jobs."

Skillful says it uses data and technology platforms to analyze and provide transparency about the the value of educational and training programs. The goal is to give educators a better picture of what skills area employers need, and giving those businesses a better idea of what skills are present in the local talent pool.

The initiative aims to create a "skills-based labor market" through several efforts. Organizers will work with employers and higher education institutions to expand opportunities for workers and make sure training and educational programs are responsive to economic changes. The program will offer training to career coaches at organizations like WorkOne, Purdue Extension and local nonprofits. It will also use data-driven insights and technology like skills-based job postings to assess the abilities of job applicants.

“Markle is bringing Skillful’s unique model to Indiana to help create a labor market that provides equal dignity for people who have developed skills in many different ways: on the job, from neighbors, in a related job in another sector or from more formal postsecondary education,” said Markle Foundation Chief Executive Officer Zoë Baird in a news release. "By helping employers show the skills they need, and everyone to see more clearly the great ways to train at every stage of a career, we will open up opportunity to thousands more Hoosiers. Employers will see the talent in their own communities and workers will be inspired to become lifelong learners who can keep pace with the evolving needs of a digital economy."

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