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In this issue..
This past month, the Valparaiso WorkOne hosted its grand opening, showcasing its new location on the campus of Ivy Tech Community College. The new center features an open layout focused on customer service.
The new office layout allows WorkOne staff to work together to provide a broad variety of seamless services to customers. The new location offers a computer lab and classroom that staff will utilize to help Hoosiers with everything from writing resumes and cover letters to basic skill development, career counseling and planning.
Locating on the campus of Ivy Tech will provide jobs seekers with additional education and training opportunities. WorkOne staff will be able to help Ivy Tech students as they prepare to enter the workforce and those who have been in the workplace can receive WorkOne support to go back to school. The on campus location will also be beneficial to employers, who need assistance training staff. WorkOne offers individualized solutions for employers such as recruitment, pre-screening, training and job testing of potential candidates. Assisting employers with staffing and training reduces costs, helping them gain a competitive edge.
Workforce development and education go hand in hand. Pairing WorkOne Centers with educational institutions will further this partnership and prepare Hoosiers for the future.
The Valparaiso office is the fourth redesigned WorkOne Center to open this year. All WorkOne Centers have adopted an improved customer service delivery system. This is part of the comprehensive approach WorkOne is taking to assist Hoosiers in gaining a better understand of their skills and resources available to improve their abilities so they can compete in today’s tight job market.
The Young Hoosiers Conservation Corp (YHCC), a program funded with federal stimulus money, was such a success that Gov. Mitch Daniels is continuing it next year. The program employed nearly 1,900 young adults who spent the summer improving Indiana’s parks, trails and natural habitats.
"This program has performed beyond expectations as witnessed by the acres of restored habitats, miles of new trails and renovated structures across our state", said Daniels. "Programs that target economic distress are exactly what I think Hoosiers expected when the idea of the federal stimulus package was first discussed."
Statewide, YHCC participants worked on 750 projects at more than 75 DNR properties. More than 30 miles of new trails were constructed and more than 500 miles of existing trails were upgraded or rehabilitated. Workers constructed 15 new buildings and renovated or repaired 380 existing buildings. Program participants also rehabilitated or repaired 50 historic buildings, treated or removed 4,700 acres of invasive species, constructed 31 new parking areas and completed 320 other projects.
In addition to gaining some great work experience, YHCC participants were offered career counseling, resume writing and interview coaching. DWD Commissioner Teresa Voors said that once workers leave the YHCC program they will have a WorkOne case manager available to continue to help them in their career search.
In addition to continuing the program in 2010 at DNR sites, Daniels is considering expansion of YHCC into urban areas across the state.
The state received approximately $24 million in federal stimulus funds through the Workforce Investment Act to be spent over a two-year period to hire workers for the 91-county program. Marion county funding was separate.
Indiana has long been considered a manufacturing state with significant concentration in the auto and auto parts sectors as well as allied sectors such as rubber and plastics manufacturing. However, in the last decade there has been a shift in industry composition reflecting employment growth in emerging manufacturing sectors such as medical device manufacturing, food manufacturing and computer/electronics manufacturing. In addition, Indiana’s economy has diversified to include strengths in non-manufacturing industries such as professional, technical, and administrative services, education and health services, transportation and warehousing, wholesale trade, utilities, and hospitality.
This diversification of Indiana’s economy helped cushion the shock associated with the economic downturn, largely driven by the financial and the auto industries. Indiana weathered the economic downturn favorably compared to neighboring states such as Illinois, Michigan and Ohio and is leading the Midwest in recovery as evidenced by three consecutive months of decline in the unemployment rate since July 2009. In September 2009, Indiana’s rate dropped below the national rate of 9.8 for the first time since October of 2008, and has lower unemployment than all of the neighboring Midwestern states. Payroll job loss for Indiana has also slowed more than its neighbors with Indiana experiencing two consecutive months of employment gain in August and September of 2009 and experienced the largest over the month increases in payroll employment in the nation.
While this is a sign of economic recovery for the state, the real test will be how well wholesale and retail trade (i.e., auto dealers and retail establishments), and the construction industry perform in the last quarter of 2009. Historically, the state has experienced an increase in unemployment insurance claims during the winter months, particularly for the construction and auto industries. While regular unemployment insurance claims for September 2009 have steadily declined since the beginning of the year, they are still 40% higher compared to September 2008 levels. Based on historical trend, claims will most likely increase in the next few months due to seasonal layoffs.
Since July of this year,16,000 more Hoosiers are employed and 31,000 fewer are unemployed, driving the unemployment rate down. However, the total labor force in July 2009 was 3,158,000 million workers compared to 3,142,000 in September 2009. Much of the decline in the labor force is due to the steady increase in the number of discouraged workers dropping out of the labor force. In 2008, the number of discouraged workers doubled to 127,000 from 65,000 in 2007. This trend continues in 2009 with 134,000 discouraged workers at the end of the 3rd quarter.
When discouraged workers drop out of the labor force they are no longer counted as unemployed because they have stopped looking for work. While they are not factored into the unemployment rate, state policy makers should pay close attention to these individuals since economists have predicted a “jobless recovery” and these individuals will encounter significant barriers to re-entering the workforce. Economic and workforce development policy makers should be optimistic but also realistic in their strategies for economic recovery and re-employment. While manufacturing continues to be a stronghold in Indiana, job creation in this sector will not be as evident as in other emerging industry sectors that have weathered the recent economic storm and have capitalized on new innovation and technology.
The Indiana Department of Workforce Development partnered with CVS Caremark last month to provide 5,000 unemployed Hoosiers a free flu shot. The vouchers were donated by CVS as part of a nationwide campaign that provided 100,000 free seasonal flu shots to unemployed Americans. Twenty locations in 15 states and Washington D.C. were chosen by CVS Caremark to participate in the program. CVS selected the Indianapolis and Elkhart WorkOne centers to receive 5,000 vouchers. The vouchers were distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis. Program participants can redeem the vouchers throughout the flu season at any CVS/Pharmacy and Minute Clinic location or at CVS Flu Shot Clinics. The day, time and location of CVS Flu Shot Clinics can be found at www.cvs.com/flu or 888-FLU-SHOT.
In these trying economic times, the pressure has never been greater to make sure every Hoosier has the right tools and knowledge to succeed. Many companies are flooded with applicants for each open position. At the Department of Workforce Development and educational institutions across Indiana, we must continually challenge ourselves to remain relevant by providing the training demanded by today’s employers.
I recently had the chance to witness state-of-the-art training at its finest inside Vincennes University new mining training facility. Coal mining is an expanding field in Southern Indiana with six underground mines currently in operation and three additional mines scheduled to open next year.
VU’s mining training center, co-located with our WorkOne, prepares students in this growing field using hi-tech simulators. Today’s mine operators need skilled workers trained to handle heavy machinery. These mining simulators realistically duplicate working conditions and activities. The simulator experience is so authentic it can even replicate rain, snow and other various weather conditions that might be encountered.
This center represents the future of workforce development by providing the localized training that meets the needs of local industries. It is very similar to DWD and Ivy Tech’s Orthopedic and Advanced Manufacturing Training Center in Warsaw. These centers, along with WorkOne, help Hoosiers acquire the skills and training necessary to get jobs in their hometown.