The Central Indiana Corporate Partnership has unveiled its latest initiative, focused on regional work force development. The CICP says Ascend Indiana is a major cross-sector initiative calling on corporate, education and community partners to collaborate to match work force skills to industry needs. The effort is being funded by a $5 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. and $2 million from organizations including the Lumina Foundation and the Glick Family Foundation.

Other agencies and organizations helping fund the initiative include the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, the Joyce Foundation, USA Funds, the Eli Lilly and Co. Foundation and the Central Indiana Community Foundation.

CICP Chief Executive Officer David Johnson says advanced industries, including technology, life sciences and technology account for more than 96,000 jobs in Indianapolis. He says those jobs, which often pay higher than state average wages, "represent some of our best opportunities to promote innovation and economic growth, and we need to be able to meet the rising need for these jobs with tailored and practical strategies."

The organization’s research suggests, within five years, about 62 percent of workers will require some form of post-secondary credential. However, CICP says only 42 percent of central Indiana’s population has attained "an adequate level of education," resulting in a gap of 215,000 adults.

CICP says Ascend Indiana will zero in on four areas of focus: engaging employers, identifying and connecting talent, building talent pipelines and informing public policy. Ascend is CICP’s first cross-sector initiative. Others have targeted specific industries, including life sciences initiative BioCrossroads and advanced manufacturing and logistics initiative Conexus Indiana.

Jason Kloth, president and CEO of Ascend Indiana, calls the effort "a coordinated approach with academia, employers and talent to develop the pipelines that fuel central Indiana’s economy."