Northwest Indiana Adapting Workforce to New Economy

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(IIB Photo/Joe Ulery) (IIB Photo/Joe Ulery)

While the steel industry has been the backbone of the economy in northwest Indiana for more than four decades, other emerging economic drivers are gaining steam in the region. The president and chief executive officer of the Center of Workforce Innovations in Porter County says a shift in the economy has begun, particularly with the $40 million data center being constructed in Hammond, as well as the healthcare and tourism and hospitality industries. Linda Woloshansky says those sectors are starting to influence workforce and talent development efforts in the region.

On a special road show edition of Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick from northwest Indiana, Linda Woloshansky said businesses are making a concerted effort in training a new generation workforce.

"Our career and technical education centers are really working closely with the industries and beginning to take a look at how they can provide more advanced classes for students which are getting filled," said Woloshansky. "The students are really responding well to this and we're seeing a lot of early college connections as well with Vincennes and Ivy Tech, which then bodes well for our university enrollments and continuation of skill development."

Woloshanksy says it has been "tremendous" to see educational institutions making connections with businesses, which have led to a changing of curricula and the development of their programming to have a greater focus on STEAM jobs. 

Woloshansky adds there is difficulty in transitioning from a greater steel and manufacturing economy to more of the information technology area. 

"People here do not see a lot of IT companies located here, corporate headquarters or a lot of talked-about jobs. But what we know is that so many of the jobs today really require IT skills and so that's where we have a challenge and we're starting to put efforts on helping people understand how they could really advance with those skills."

She adds placemaking efforts to make the region more attractive to new residents is also key to adapting to a more diverse economy.

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