Employer Survey: Downward Workforce Trend Continues

More than half of respondents to a recent survey expect their workforces to grow in the next two years, but more of those employers continue to leave jobs unfilled and rank meeting talent needs as among their biggest challenges.

There were 671 respondents to the ninth annual employer survey, conducted by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and its foundation. WGU Indiana sponsored the survey, sent to Indiana Chamber members and customers. Participating companies included 58% with fewer than 100 employees and 27% with between 100 and 500 employees. Leading industries represented were manufacturing (21%) and health care/social assistance (11%).

While there were not dramatic changes from workforce results in recent years, several downward trends continued. Companies that left Indiana jobs unfilled in 2015 due to under-qualified applicants increased to 45% – compared to 43% and 39%, respectively, for the prior two years. In addition, 27% of respondents identified filling their workforce and meeting talent needs as ­­their biggest challenge. Another 49% categorized the talent needs as “challenging but not their biggest challenge.” The 76% total exceeds the numbers for 2015 (74%; 24% biggest challenge) and 2014 (72%; 20% biggest challenge).

This comes despite the percentage of respondents requiring an industry certification or occupational license for unfilled jobs declining from 27% in the 2015 survey to 16% in 2016. At the same time, the minimum requirement of a high school diploma increased from 34% to 39%.

On the other end of the education spectrum, more employers are also raising the bar. Employers requiring a bachelor degree as the minimum level for the unfilled jobs increased from 23% a year ago to more than 28% in 2016. This reaffirms the importance of moving the current workforce toward degree completion.

More than half (52%) of survey respondents indicated they do not offer tuition reimbursement. Of those providing the tuition assistance, only 11% of companies see at least 10% of their employees taking advantage of the benefit. This serves as a potential additional detriment to reaching the Outstanding Talent goals, particularly in elevating the skills of incumbent workers. Recent Cigna Corporation research shows a $1.29 return generated for each $1 investment in tuition reimbursement.

Additional results include:

  • Personal qualities (work ethic, responsibility, initiative) and critical thinking skills were cited as most challenging to find among job applicants and new hires at 63% and 54%, respectively
  • More than half (54%) of companies expect to grow their workforce in the next 12 to 24 months. Forty-one percent anticipate no change, with 4% seeing a decrease
  • Pending retirements continue to be a factor as 57% say up to 5% of their employees will be eligible to retire within the next five years (27% place the percentage of eligible retirees as high as 10%)

View the survey results at www.indianachamber.com/education.

The Indiana Chamber and its foundation, focused on providing research and solutions to enhance Indiana’s economic future, have resources to assist employers, job seekers and students.

IndianaSkills.com provides job supply and demand information both statewide and regionally. It utilizes current labor market data to help companies, prospective workers and students understand Indiana’s workforce landscape. Salary data, required skills and certifications, and creation of effective job descriptions are among the featured tools.

Indiana INTERNnet has been connecting students and employers for internship opportunities for 15 years. The easy-to-use web site, informative Intern Today, Employee Tomorrow guide and regional partnerships are supplemented by additional outreach programs.

The Indiana Vision 2025 plan measures Indiana’s progress compared to other states on 36 goals in the four driver areas of Outstanding Talent, Attractive Business Climate, Superior Infrastructure, and Dynamic and Creative Culture.

Chamber Members: Get the Most Out of Your Staples Business Advantage

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It’s easy to take advantage of the savings through the Staples Business Advantage Program! Leverage the partnership between the Chamber and Staples, and save on everything you need to keep your business running:

  • Members save an average of 15%-30% off Staples’s already low prices
  • Best buy list of 2,000 most frequently purchased items
  • Free delivery for orders over $50
  • More than office supplies- a fully integrated solution with discounts on furniture, technology, promo, facilities and breakroom
  • Print solutions: $0.02 black/white, $0.23 color copies, 50% off finishing services

Questions? Contact Laura Bourdelais at Laura.Bourdelais@staples.com.

Letter: Federal Health Insurance Tax Harmful to Employers

The federal Health Insurance Tax is an aspect of the Affordable Care Act that poses a threat to businesses across the country. The following letter of concern from Caryl Auslander, the Indiana Chamber’s vice president of federal affairs, was sent to Sen. Joe Donnelly and explains the Chamber’s position on the issue.

Senator Donnelly,

As Hoosiers, we are proud that our state has shown strong and sustained economic growth ever since the nationwide recession in 2009. It is our concern that the Federal government is hurting, rather than helping, by enacting policies that harm the employer community, specifically small businesses. In particular, we are deeply concerned by the Health Insurance Tax (or “HIT”) that is embedded in the Affordable Care Act.

This provision ensures that those individuals and businesses that have to turn to private insurance companies for coverage are stuck with a disproportionate share of the costs of the ACA. While the original intent of the HIT was supposed to be paid by the insurance companies, in reality the companies really act only as tax-collecting proxies for the Federal government.

When a consumer cannot avoid purchasing a good or service, they have little or no power to resist price increases imposed by suppliers. And when all of the suppliers are charged the same tax, they all have the same incentive to pass it along to their consumers. Thus the HIT forms a hidden tax on health insurance consumers: The families and small businesses who can’t afford to self-insure.

By some estimates, the HIT will cost more than $500 per family every year. A tax burden like that can place real hardship on a middle-class family, push poor families straight into insolvency, and keep small businesses from being able to hire new workers, reinvest in their company or provide other services to consumers. In a small firm with 80 employees, the hidden HIT alone could cost more than $40,000 a year — well over the state’s per-capita income.

The HIT is a hidden and regressive tax, and bipartisan agreement has been enough thus far to delay its full implementation. But middle-class Hoosiers and small business owners here cannot afford the continued uncertainty. On behalf of 24,000 Chamber members and customers across the state of Indiana, it is our request that you place the permanent elimination of the Health Insurance Tax at the top of your agenda. Its unconditional repeal would be a victory for transparency, good government, and economic opportunity for all.

Thank you for your leadership on this issue and for defending the people of Indiana.

Sincerely,

Caryl Auslander
Vice President, Federal Affairs

New Addition: Indiana Technology & Innovation Council

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Technology companies are relocating to and growing in portions of Indiana. The mission of the Indiana Chamber’s new Indiana Technology & Innovation Council is to support and expand those efforts.

The Chamber will utilize its policy, political affairs, event planning, research, communications and financial resources in collaboration with tech company leaders and organizations. The Indiana Technology & Innovation Council opens the door statewide to those wanting to join Chamber members, who will receive these expanded benefits as part of their current Chamber dues investment.

Chamber members can participate in upcoming open discussions on policy and programming priorities. Two committees – Tech Policy, and Program and Trends – comprised of representatives of member companies will develop a specific policy agenda and programming that supports existing efforts.

Full details are available in this press release. Mark Lawrance (mlawrance@indianachamber.com), who recently returned to the Chamber as Vice President of Engagement and Innovation Policy, will be the lead staff person.

“We’re excited to partner with tech companies and their leaders,” states Lawrance, “while offering a statewide platform to expand Indiana’s growing tech success story.”

Ellis, Lawrance Bring Chamber Advocacy Team to Full Strength

lawrence ellisThe many programs and benefits of Indiana Chamber membership include the state’s deepest and most effective group of issue experts. That team welcomes two talented additions.

Mark Lawrance returns to the Chamber in the new position of vice president of engagement and innovation policy. That includes advocacy work in the areas of technology, economic development and infrastructure.

Greg Ellis begins his work May 31 as vice president of energy and environmental policy. His variety of public and private sector experiences, including serving as an administrative law judge for the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission since 2010, will prove valuable in his work on behalf of Chamber members.

Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar leads an experienced lobbying team that also includes: Caryl Auslander, education, workforce development and federal relations; Mike Ripley, health care policy and employment law; and Bill Waltz, taxation, public finance and local government reform.

“The hard work that takes place in the summer and fall – Chamber policy meetings, interim legislative panels, individual meetings with lawmakers and more – leads to effective General Assembly sessions,” Brinegar says. “Chamber members will be well represented by these issue experts and the support team we have around them.”

M.J. Schuetz Insurance Services: Maximizing Chamber Investment Through Compliance Resources

Wolcott_Vickie“I trust them.”

That’s why Vickie Wolcott relies on a variety of Chamber resources to help keep M. J. Schuetz Insurance Services, an Indiana Chamber member since 1994, in compliance with state and federal laws.

She began working at the Indianapolis firm, which specializes primarily in commercial insurance, 37 years ago as a receptionist. Today, she’s one of the owners and serves as president.

Purchasing mandatory state and laminated poster sets has become a tradition.

“Whenever they come out, I make sure I order them immediately because I really trust them,” Wolcott declares.

The Chamber’s Indiana Employment Forms publication is another favorite.

“We have our agency policies and things like that in place, but it’s always nice to have them (forms) on hand as a backup and an extra resource,” Wolcott asserts. “I look at those to make sure we’re in compliance with everything. They make it very easy for me.”

She cites one more valuable tool: free, confidential helplines.

Wolcott reveals, “It’s always (provided) good feedback for me and been a trusted resource.”

Indiana Chamber Assesses Impact of State’s Early UI Loan Payoff

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Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar assesses the impact of the early payoff of the state’s federal unemployment insurance (UI) trust fund loan which occurred in November 2015:

“Employers now have $327 million in additional funds available for other workplace priorities. They can further invest in their organizations and employees, as well as add more jobs, instead of sending that money to Washington as an ongoing penalty for the loan being in place.

“This early payoff, strongly supported by the Indiana Chamber, was a common sense step taken by lawmakers and Gov. Pence to help employers and their employees. It has had among the greatest impacts of any public policy over the last year on the business community.”

Background
The early payoff was accomplished by temporarily borrowing from Indiana’s reserve funds. The Governor announced today that the funds have now been paid back by employers through their regular state UI payments.

Indiana INTERNnet to Host Three Summer Networking Events for Interns, Mentors

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Roche Diagnostics interns enjoy a day at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.

Indiana INTERNnet will host a series of intern networking events this summer to encourage community engagement.

Interns from organizations throughout Central Indiana are invited to events at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis (June 14), Indianapolis Zoo (July 14) and Indiana State Fair (August 5). Each will offer professional development and networking opportunities in addition to time to explore the venues.

  • The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis event will begin at 9 a.m. (check-in at 8:30 a.m.) with professional development. Following the programming, attendees will be free to explore the museum at their leisure until it closes at 5 p.m. An optional lunch will be served around noon.
  • The Indianapolis Zoo event will take place from approximately 1-5 p.m. Following professional development programming and zoo experiences, attendees will be invited to enjoy the Animals and All That Jazz concert from 5:30-8:30 p.m.
  • The Indiana State Fair event will begin at 9 a.m. (check-in at 8 a.m.) with a welcome and networking activity where Pete the Planner will speak to attendees. Interns will be invited to enjoy the fair at their leisure and participate in an optional social media contest administered by Indiana INTERNnet. The contest will conclude in the early afternoon. Fair bucks will be provided for each attendee to be used at food vendors throughout the fair.

In 2015, nearly 200 interns participated in Indiana INTERNnet events at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and Indiana State Fair.

A feeling of community connectedness is a significant factor in a young professional’s decision regarding where he or she lives and works.

“Talent retention is at the core of Indiana INTERNnet’s mission,” emphasizes executive director Janet Boston. “To complement the real-world experience interns gain on the job, these engagement events provide an opportunity for them to build relationships through networking and develop community pride.”

Capacity is limited and registration is required. The reservation deadline is June 1 for The Children’s Museum, July 1 for the Indianapolis Zoo and July 15 for the Indiana State Fair. Contact Katie Coffin to RSVP at INTERNnet@indianachamber.com or (317) 264-7535.