As thousands baby boomers retire each year, many existing jobs need to be filled, on top of new jobs coming online.
U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta visited Indiana with U.S. Sen. Todd Young Friday to explore what Hoosier businesses are doing to address the state’s skills gap. The two went on a tour of Gaylor Electric in Noblesville to see first-hand an apprenticeship program the company offers to fill the workforce gap.
Like many other states, Indiana is already struggling to fill the jobs it has open, which Acosta put a positive spin on during his trip.
“For six months in a row now, we have had more open jobs in this economy than people looking for jobs,” says Acosta.
While that might seem like good news, it reflects the state’s lack of a highly-skilled workforce. Acosta says it also means attention must be paid to providing specialized education for those now in school.
“We need demand driven education where educators talk to those employers and ask what skills do you need and teach those skills,” he says.
One of the roundtable participants was Brianna DeAngelo, who’s now in her second year as an apprentice at Gaylor Electric after dropping out of college.
She says she feels she has more job security now than if she had finished college.
“I’ve been given tools to become an expert in a trade, says DeAngelo. “I can take that knowledge with me anywhere. And in turn that gives me the promise of a secure future and not just me, but for my daughter also.”
Acosta says apprentices need to be seen and valued the same as lawyers and doctors.
“We need to become a society that looks at a hospital and respects the individuals that build that hospital as much as we respect the individuals that work in that hospital,” says Acosta.
Acosta and Young also visited Indiana State University where they discussed retirement security.
Indiana is expected to have more than 1 million jobs to fill in the next decade.