Assessing Future of Indiana Industries and Workforce

Inside INdiana Business is reporting that a new statewide research project focusing on Indiana’s economy and workforce has revealed the state faces some significant hurdles, including challenges for the vaunted manufacturing sector.

Organizers say the Indiana GPS Project is designed to inform public policy and business priorities that will spur economic growth.

The Central Indiana Corporate Partnership initiated the project to gauge sustainability of the Indiana industrial sector and ability of Hoosiers to land and keep good-paying jobs.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, CICP President and Chief Executive Officer David Johnson said the preliminary analysis shows humbling data.

“This study is pretty convincing in saying, ‘Although you are third in the nation, in terms of your concentration of these advanced industries, you’re 37th in the nation when it comes to how technologically ready they are to continue to compete in terms of the investments that they’re making,’” said Johnson.

The CICP research project is being conducted in collaboration with Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program and the American Enterprise Institute.

Brookings’ research focuses on an assessment of the state’s advanced industries, including defense, aerospace, life sciences, and healthcare.

“Those are all industries that Indiana has in great abundance, far more concentrated here than in most states our size. And that’s our real strength because those are globally traded industries that bring new dollars into the state,” said Johnson.

But he says the report shows the risk of losing that leadership edge if the state is not constantly replenishing the “human talent” with the right kinds of education and skills needed for the research & development and STEM-intensive industries.

“It points up an area that we are in danger of becoming technologically underweight, just at the time, as we’ve all seen with COVID over the past year, where the dependence that we have on technology for pretty much everything has never been more clear and it has never accelerated more quickly than it has now,” said Johnson.

He says the state has been slow to recover from recessions during the 21st Century and when it did, jobs often did not pay at previous wage levels.

CICIP says from 2007 to 2017, Indiana saw the creation of more than 181,000 new low-paying jobs, while losing nearly 104,000 middle-wage jobs.

“So, we have recovered the numbers of jobs here fairly quickly. But the economic impact of those jobs has oftentimes been less because they paid less than the jobs that were lost,” said Johnson.

The report is due out in January. Johnson says it will provide powerful tools to civic, business and educational leaders across Indiana’s 92 counties to address the challenges.

“To fix it, you then really need to think about where are the jobs of the future going? And how do we make sure we’re getting people as prepared for those with transferable skills as we can. That’s not going to get done in one in one year, obviously. So the data in this report should give rise to constructive action for several years down the road here,” said Johnson.

For more information on the Indiana GPS Project, click here.

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