Career coaches from across Indiana presented to panels of business leaders Nov. 7 with recommendations for how to improve career services.
The Skillful Governor’s Coaching Corps — a program that’s part of Skillful Indiana — is made up of action teams that began working in March. They focused on topics ranging from how to help the underemployed to creating a one-stop-shop for job seekers.
The first team to present argued that there is too much attention on the unemployed, which is to the detriment of the underemployed, or those who have a job (or two or three) but don’t make as much money as what they’re qualified for and often don’t get the benefits, including health care, that come with a full-time job.
Cyndi Harbin, state workforce readiness director at the Indiana affiliate for the Society for Human Resource Management, said the resources are out there, but barriers that are often overlooked — transportation, current work schedule, kids’ activities — get in the way. In other words, a single mother of three can find time to get to the career center, but can she get there when it’s open?
“We’re too concentrated on finding employment for folks,” Harbin said, “and those folks that are working, we feel that they’re OK with where they’re at, when in fact they’re not. They’re struggling.”
The team’s presentation included a statewide survey where 40% of respondents said they were working full time but underpaid.
Their solutions included adding virtual assistants and job coaches to the state’s Indiana Career Ready website. The state did a pilot program for virtual job coaches in 2014 but didn’t fully implement it, said Brandy Bast of Goodwill Industries of Central and Southern.
Fred Payne, commissioner of the Department of Workforce Development, was on the panel.
Another action team concentrated on how to create new models for finding work.
They suggested a physical one-stop-shop that would include a child care center, Ivy Tech classrooms, veteran services and other resources. The center would be anchored by WorkOne, which is part of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development and has offices around the state.
They also suggested working with employers to get rid of unnecessary credential requirements on job postings.
Bill Turner, executive director of Skillful Indiana, said part of the program is about “trying to change how employers look at job seekers.” Where it’s appropriate, Turner would like employers to prioritize skills over a degree or certificate.
Tammy Gibson, from WorkOne Allen County, was part of the action team and said those requirements can be discouraging for people who want a certain job and are otherwise qualified to have it.
“From the job-seekers’ perspective, it eliminates them,” she said. “So they think that they’re not qualified for these jobs. That’s why we’re shooting for posting these jobs based off your skills.”
Gibson said she would also like employers to pay more attention to soft skills, such as problem solving and communication, that don’t necessarily come through on a resume or degree.
Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.