Business leaders and educators from across the Region gathered at Avalon Manor on Wednesday for the unveiling of the biannual State of the Workforce Report. The report revealed issues, strengths, and trends set to impact Northwest Indiana’s economy for years.

Prepared by the Center of Workforce Innovations and presented by the Northwest Indiana Workforce Board, the State of the Workforce Report collects demographic, wage, and education data from every county in the Region. More valuable than this type of raw data is the expert analysis it offers. It became clear that the regional economy is changing, and the 2018 Report clarified key areas of focus for employers and educators, and how they may need to adapt.

“Our regional economy is slowly changing due to the changing nature of jobs and the skills needed for them. This is occurring largely due to technology,” said Linda Woloshansky, President and CEO for the Center of Workforce Innovations. “Technology serves as a disruptor that creates, modifies, and eliminates jobs. Such changes make assessments of talent readiness challenging because jobs and their requisite skill sets are constantly changing.”

Technology and its ramifications proved to be the biggest topic of the report. Talking about automation often leads to visions of robots taking over jobs, and while that is part of the jobs landscape, the subject is more complicated than that. The report highlighted concepts such as hybrid jobs that would help employers work with technology instead of against it. With this data and analysis in hand, the Center of Workforce Innovations is looking to help employers and educators leverage the unique strengths of the Region.

“The report is excellent because it provides future and historical trends. It’s critical to all of us to have that illustrated,” said Joe Medellin, Human Resource Manager at ArcelorMittal and Northwest Indiana Workforce Board Member. “It’s going to be really helpful and will raise your eyebrows a bit. I enjoy understanding and looking at the data each time. I like to compare how we did last time and how we’ve grown over the last two years.”

Shaun Sahlhoff, Planner at Center of Workforce Innovations, presented the data and helped outline the essential takeaways. Sahlhoff focused mainly on the idea of partnership. Businesses and educators need to work together to keep the economy strong and regional workforce prepared.

“You hear this everywhere, but businesses are struggling to find people to hire,” Sahlhoff said. “There needs to be a greater integration between our higher-education system and our employers. We need to align things so educators are providing the skills the workforce needs.”

Wednesday’s unveiling was as much about presenting the data as it was fostering that integration. It gathered those who are most capable of empowering the Region’s economy together in one place.

“We have incredible resources in our schools and innovation amongst our people that can launch us to success beyond our wildest imaginations,” Woloshansky said. “Our success is tied to our own belief system about Northwest Indiana, so let’s believe and act to make the Region and future we want.”

Download the full 2018 State of the Workforce Report.

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