INDIANAPOLIS - The Indiana Chamber of Commerce says concerning trends outlined in its 2018 employer survey has led to an effort to boost Indiana's workforce. The chamber has created the Institute for Workforce Excellence, which it says aims to help businesses throughout the state attract, develop and retain talent. According to the survey, 51 percent of respondents said they had jobs left unfilled in the past year because of underqualified applicants. It is the fifth consecutive increase and the first time the number has reached more than half.

Tom Schuman, senior vice president of communications and operations for the Indiana Chamber, says the institute has been in a year in the making. He says the institute will feature various chamber initiatives, such as the Achieve Your Degree program with Ivy Tech Community College, the Indiana INTERNnet, and Indiana Workforce Recovery.

However, Schuman tells Inside INdiana Business the institute will go beyond just the chamber's resources. "We feel we can be that clearing house for employers. Do they need information on grants? We don't provide the grants, but we certainly we can lead them to the state's Next Level Jobs programs. Some of the new initiatives coming to the state on apprenticeships and Skillful, we look to partner with those and again, help employers meet their specific workforce needs."

Nearly 700 businesses responded to the survey and one-third of respondents said filling their workforce needs is their biggest challenge, which is also a record high. The chamber says the workforce challenges come as 56 percent of businesses expect to increase the size of their workforce in the next 12 to 14 months, 62 percent say the supply of qualified applicants does not meet demand.

Schuman says the chamber wants Indiana to be a leader in solving this workforce challenge. "Every state has this same problem going on, but if 2-3 years down the road, if Indiana employers are able to fill most of their jobs, we're going to see economic success for Indiana companies, for their employees, for families, for communities and that's the best we can hope for out of this institute."

The institute will be led by Jason Bearce, vice president of education and workforce policy for the chamber. Bearce will appear this weekend on Inside INdiania Business with Gerry Dick to talk about the institute and its goals. 

You can learn more about the Institute for Workforce Excellence by clicking here. You can read more about the results of the employer survey below: