INDIANAPOLIS -- Employee skill and education deficits continue to plague companies across the state, according to respondents of the latest Ready Indiana employer workforce skills survey.
In fact, the amount of employers who responded that they had been affected by skill shortfalls in 2010 jumped a staggering 75 percent from the year prior.
A total of 218 employers representing more than 16,000 workers in 10 sectors took part in the annual survey. Ready Indiana is the workforce education initiative of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.
In terms of the specific abilities lacking, more than 70 percent of employers honed in on applied skills such as communication, problem solving, leadership and creativity. They cited those skills as both the most important and most deficient in their workers.
"It could be the skills mismatch is becoming more prominent -- employers are feeling it more. Fifty percent of the individuals on unemployment statewide have only a high school diploma or GED. Approximately 16 percent of these individuals do not have either one, according to data from Indiana's Workforce Intelligence System," Kris Deckard, executive director of Ready Indiana, said.
"It's not surprising then that as employers are starting to hire, this is going to be more and more noticed and more and more of a problem."
Additionally, the survey highlights differences in the level of education and skills required for employees, depending on the industry.
"It's more important for job seekers to realize how much education you're going to need to get in the door. Health care and life sciences prefer degrees and certificates. There is more entry level work in the transportation sector; they're starting at a different place," stresses Deckard. "There are industries -- like health care -- where (standards) are regulated by law. In other sectors, there is not a clearly defined bar."
Jamie Merisotis, president and CEO of the Lumina Foundation for Education, said the survey helps to delineate how increased skills and education can improve Indiana's workforce.
"Assuring that more Hoosiers complete some form of postsecondary education is essential to the economic vitality of our state. The annual employer workforce skills survey by Ready Indiana documents this growing need and the clear advantages a better trained and educated workforce will have on our economy," Merisotis asserted.
"Lumina Foundation strongly believes that helping more Hoosiers get the advanced skills and knowledge our economy increasingly demands will help make Indiana a national leader in terms of job creation and fostering economic growth."
Some optimistic study findings include almost 60 percent of the employers predicting a stable workforce through 2013 and about 36 percent of employers expecting to expand rather than downsize.
The survey also points to encouraging trends in employee training and education -- the number of employers spending $250-$500 per employee increased by 28 percent in 2010. Also, 70 percent of companies reported using in-house staff to facilitate on-the-job training. Employers reported improvements in their workforce due to training efforts, including better quality work and customer service, higher morale and employee retention.
Complete survey results are available on the Ready Indiana website at www.readyindiana.org.