Employers increasingly demand workers with more education.
by Barbara D. Grimsgard
In November, the Northwest Indiana Workforce Board will share with the community its 2012 State of the Workforce Report identifying our region's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges. It highlights key findings as they relate to demographics, education, labor force, income and education, industry and economic base, industry clusters and occupational clusters.
Probably the most significant findings in the report are related to secondary and postsecondary education in the region and the importance educational attainment has on our workforce and its economy. With advances in technology and the need to be competitive in this century's economy, it was no surprise that 55 percent of all jobs in Indiana (1.7 million) will require some postsecondary training beyond high school in 2018.
“Ready to Work/Ready to Hire,” a plan created by the ReadyNWI partnership, assumes employer demand for postsecondary education will continue to rise and reach a level of 80 percent in 2025. Non-proprietary postsecondary institutions report either relatively stable enrollment or growth the past seven years, but only 25.6 percent of individuals 18 and over in Northwest Indiana currently have completed a postsecondary credential.
Northwest Indiana's unemployment rate is gradually declining after reaching a peak of 10.7 percent in 2009. Chicago is seeing more than 20,000 Indiana residents commuting into the city each day and these commuters are earning more than $3,333 per month, which is a clear indication of the higher-paying jobs in Chicago.
During the recession, younger workers experienced the sharpest declines in employment opportunities, while the patterns of employment reflected that employers are favoring the mature worker. Those workers 65 and older were slightly thwarted by this recent recession. With the recession, entrepreneurial endeavors began to decline simultaneously as unemployment spiked.
As we look at areas of employment and regional competitiveness, and industry and occupational clusters, the 2010 State of the Workforce report describes an approach known as Occupation Clusters Analysis to identify the types of workers driving change in the economy. Within the cluster analysis there are four location quotients.
The Rising Star cluster shows an increase in employment and growth within the region as they drive growth and development. Northwest Indiana's rising star clusters are personal service occupations.
Maturing clusters show us that while employment may be down, concentration is up. Even businesses that rely on skilled workers are laying off employees around the country; they are choosing to consolidate in our region, which is a powerful signal of regional competitiveness. A mature cluster is poised for future growth during a period of national economic expansion. Examples of mature clusters are agribusiness and food technology, engineering, skilled production including technicians, operators, trades, installers and repairers.
Lagging clusters often look like positive attributes if the only measure is growth of employment, but a lagging cluster is not growing at the same pace as the rest of the economy. While it adds jobs, it is not doing it at the same rate as other regions. Lagging clusters need strategies that show both growth and concentration. Among the region's lagging clusters are occupations such as the arts and entertainment, natural sciences and environmental management, healthcare and medical sciences including practitioners and scientists, medical technicians, therapy, consulting, nursing and rehab.
Fading clusters are losing overall employment and concentration. They are the least competitive clusters, with businesses decreasing their hiring of workers within the cluster and many times looking to move or grow their business elsewhere. The region's fading clusters include building, landscape and construction design, managerial, sales, marketing and human resources, as well as information technology.
Barbara D. Grimsgard is communications manager for the Center of Workforce Innovations in Valparaiso. For a copy of the full report which will be available in November, visit www.innovativeworkforce.com.