A Day to Remember in Evansville

evilleArmed with my Starbuck’s latte, I stepped out into the cold. It was mid-January and I was headed to Evansville to conduct interviews for our education/workforce development issue of BizVoice® magazine.

I started the day around 7 a.m. and didn’t pull into my driveway until shortly after 7 p.m. that evening. You know what? It was worth it. In fact, it was unforgettable.

First up: Ivy Tech’s College Connection Coach initiative. The program places Ivy Tech employees in high schools to promote a culture of college attainment and to provide career counseling and advisement. Launched last fall, it stresses collaboration with guidance counselors, administrators and teachers.

Carrie Feltis, a College Connection Coach in the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation, spends two days a week at both Central and Harrison High Schools. While visiting Central, I watched her interact with a senior named Lindsey, with whom she’s worked closely. What a rapport! They shared laughs – lots of them – and proudly conveyed Lindsey’s many accomplishments. Among them: She’ll be the first member of her family to graduate from high school.

Next was a visit to Ivy Tech Community College-Southwest/Wabash Valley Region hosted by chancellor Jonathan Weinzapfel, a former state legislator and Evansville mayor. He passionately expressed the importance of the program and its potential impact in leading students down a path that includes postsecondary education.

Then it was time to dive into my next story. It was time to step into Signature School.

Signature, the state’s first charter school, is nationally recognized for its challenging curriculum and unique culture. Located in downtown Evansville, its close proximity to libraries, the YMCA, the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra and more provides the backdrop for learning beyond the doors of Signature’s two buildings.

Executive Director Jean Hitchcock beamed as we stepped into dynamic classrooms and met the people who create Signature’s success. The teachers are passionate. The students are spirited. It’s a tight-knit team that lives by the Signature Way.

If there’s one word to sum up my impressions of Signature, it’s this: brilliant.

Brilliant minds. Brilliant opportunities. That’s Signature.

Show Them the Money

Recently, we asked your reaction to President Obama’s proposal for “free” community college. The results:

  • 43%: Who will pay the $60 billion price tag?
  • 20%: Sign me up
  • 14%: Won’t help if more students don’t graduate
  • 12%: Not for me but a step in the right direction

Our current poll asks a question that could not have been offered a year ago when no Indiana schools were represented in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Vote (top right) on your home state favorite for March Madness.

Inaugural Career Ready Season to Kick Off in April

careerreadyIndiana’s Career Ready campaign (formerly KnowHow2GOIndiana) takes place each April through July, with real-world advice and practical experiences to help students prepare for their future careers. Efforts will focus on career sectors that are projected to be in high demand for Indiana’s economy (advanced manufacturing; agriculture, agribusiness and food; healthcare and life sciences; information technology and clean energy technology; and logistics).

Beginning with the official statewide kick-off week (April 20-24), Career Ready aims to:

  • Educate Hoosier students about the range of career options in Indiana;
  • Expose Hoosier students of all ages to meaningful work-and-learn experiences;
  • Equip Hoosier students with the education and skills required to succeed in their careers and meet Indiana’s economic needs.

Get involved
Career Day (April 24) is an opportunity to get in the schools in your region and share your experience. Whether you present about your job, the sector you work in or employability skills, students need to hear directly from employers.

Complete this short, five-question survey by Friday, March 13 to tell the Commission for Higher Education about your current efforts and how you’d like to partner with schools in your region. Please note that survey information may be shared with your local school districts.

Career Ready is an initiative of Learn More Indiana, led by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. Visit the web site at CareerReadyIndiana.org.

Engaging Employees is Critical to a Thriving Business

45379113Some companies have a very difficult time getting engagement and “buy in” from their employees. Ragan lists some of the reasons your employees may be feeling disillusioned. (Read the full article for elaboration.)

  1. Employees don’t know what game they’re in, how it’s played, and what the stakes are.
  2. Employees don’t know exactly how to make the biggest contribution.
  3. You don’t give employees a reason to care about contributing.
  4. Managers don’t know how to create an environment that fosters passion, courage and a desire for excellence.
  5. Employees are set up for the “Agony of Defeat” rather than the “Thrill of Victory.”
  6. Bad behavior and poor performance go unchallenged.
  7. Employees feel unappreciated.

Fortunately, many Indiana companies are making those valuable connections with their team members — and 100 were recently recognized by earning a spot on the Best Places to Work in Indiana list. The rankings will be announced at the 10th Annual BPTW in Indiana Awards Dinner on May 7. Get your tickets now.

 

Free Webinar Can Help Avoid Mistakes in Hiring Veterans

sNational Guard and veteran unemployment continues to outstrip national unemployment numbers, while employers post job openings at a 14-year high, according to the U.S. Labor Department.

So what’s the missing connection? Small and mid-size employers often hit snags when seeking to hire trained and experienced veterans and National Guard members. Challenges include bureaucratic issues, translating military experience into civilian job descriptions and connecting with qualified military job candidates through a myriad of available programs and job boards.

The Center for America, coordinating the non-profit American Jobs for America’s Heroes military hiring campaign, announces a free webinar replay,How to Achieve Greater Success in Hiring National Guard and Other Veterans,” to give employers practical advice on hurdles they may encounter in the military hiring effort and specific action steps that will help employers find qualified job applicants. There is no cost and no registration to watch the program.

The program features three experts who have extensive experience in helping veterans and employers: Brig. Gen. (ret.) Marianne Watson, the former Director of Manpower and Personnel (J1) for the National Guard Bureau; Stacy Bayton, a retired U.S. Marine and Chief Operating Officer for Corporate America Supports You (CASY) and the Military Spouse Corporate Career Network (MSCCN), a 2014 Call of Duty Endowment award-winner for excellence in military hiring; and Erin Voirol, the CASY-MSCCN Executive Director and military spouse. CASY and MSCCN placed more than 5,000 Guard members and veterans in jobs in 2014.

The “live” version of this webinar was hosted by the Maryland State Council of the Society for Human Resource Management.

Questions? Contact: Steve Nowlan, Center for America, 201-513-0379 or SNowlan@CenterForAmerica.org.

Wick’s Pies: Maximizing Its Chamber Investment Through Compliance Resources

foodserviceLife is sweet at Wick’s Pies

The family-owned business, which opened in 1944 and has been an Indiana Chamber member since 1984, has a tight-knit team that whips up flavors such as pecan, pumpkin, sugar crème (the state pie), coconut crème, German chocolate and more. During an eight-hour production shift, the associates can bake as many as 12,000 pies. In addition, they can make 40 shells per minute in a seven-hour period.

Wick’s has spawned Wick’s Foods (which makes pie glaze for Wick’s Pies) and a restaurant – all located within a block of one another in Winchester.

Human resources specialist Tonya Fouse notes that prior to joining Wick’s Pies in 2006, “I worked in the automotive industry and was a purchasing manager. I had strong managerial skills, but I didn’t know a thing about HR.

“It was baptism by fire and our tool to teach me was the Indiana Chamber – the seminars I went to, all the reading material I could get my hands on (citing publications that cover topics such as unemployment law, worker’s compensation and labor relations), and the (helpline) resources I could call.”

Fouse proudly shares that she earned the Chamber’s Human Resources Specialist Certificate in 2012 after attending a variety of training events. In addition, she routinely utilizes the Chamber’s HR Helpline, a free, confidential resource exclusively available to members.

“We’ve just about hit every topic there is. With FMLA (for instance), it seems there’s always something that evolves. I totally trust in that resource, and it’s wonderful for me to be able to shoot an email (to director of human resources Michelle Kavanaugh) and a response comes back within the hour. It’s been a lifesaving tool for me.

“(The Chamber) kind of formed me and molded me into the HR specialist I am today.”

Postsecondary Pathways Events Draw Attention to Regional Skill Needs

16012978Educators, employers and community members gathered at the Ivy Tech Muncie campus last week to discuss career and training opportunities in manufacturing and construction at the Postsecondary Pathways event, sponsored by JPMorgan Chase & Co., and co-hosted by the Indiana Youth Institute, CELL, Indiana Department of Workforce Development and the Indiana Chamber.

Rick Barnett, VP Engineering at Indiana Marujun, LLC, summed up the need for the convening in the first panel discussion:

“Students are starting to see the value of manufacturing and seeing it as a viable career opportunity,” said Barnett. “But we’re still not where we need to be.”

Barnett went on to add that Indiana Marujun has not been fully staffed in the maintenance department as long as he can remember. Current employees are putting in great amounts of overtime to keep up with demand.

Drew Dubois with DuPont Pioneer also said they struggle to find maintenance workers, as well as computer and technical skills. He said their biggest challenge, however, is finding employees with soft skills (accountability, creativity and passion).

Indiana Marujun recently developed an apprenticeship program to develop their future talent. The U.S. Department of Labor runs Registered Apprenticeship, a system that provides the opportunity for workers seeking high-skilled, high-paying jobs and for employers seeking to build a qualified workforce. Each state has an apprenticeship office; for more information, visit the web site.

Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann gave the opening keynote, encouraging employers to offer more work-and-learn opportunities, such as internships, and for educators to share multiple “Plan A’s” with their students. Included in the event was a tour of Magna Powertrain, a supplier for the global automotive industry with focus in powertrain design, development, testing and manufacturing, that employs hundreds of associates at two locations in Muncie.

Other Postsecondary Pathways events were held in Lafayette, Odon and Batesville. Additional events are planned for the fall. Visit the Indiana Youth Institute’s web site to find dates and registration information for these future opportunities.

Learn more about the participating businesses at the Region 6 Postsecondary Pathways event:

IndianaSkills.com aims to bridge the gap between the types of training and credentials people are pursuing in Indiana and the skills being requested by our state’s employers. The site provides information on employer demand for specific jobs, skills and certifications compared to the supply of graduates completing short-term training (two years or less beyond high school) related to these jobs, skills and certifications.

HR Pros: Check Out the Chamber’s February 2015 HR Monthly Messenger

We recently created a monthly newsletter, the HR Monthly Messenger. It’s designed to help human resources professionals by offering some relevant news from the month, and showing what resources we can offer you as well. Just click on the image below to see the full newsletter. (And no, that’s not comedian John Oliver in the header — but possibly a cousin or relative of some sort.)

feb newsletter image

Carney Out, Gregory In for Our March 11 Legislative Dinner

GregoryDavidScheduled speaker Jay Carney had to back out of keynoting our March 11 Legislative Dinner in Indianapolis. While unfortunate, we’re happy to announce former “Meet the Press” host David Gregory will be joining us.

David Gregory knows the political scene at the highest level. He was the White House correspondent for NBC during the George W. Bush presidency. More recently, he was host of Meet the Press for six years (2008-2014).

Gregory brings his insights to Indiana on March 11 as the keynote speaker at the Indiana Chamber’s 2015 Legislative Dinner. Opening remarks will be presented by Gov. Mike Pence. The Indiana Roof Ballroom in downtown Indianapolis is the location for the event.

Networking with legislators and others will also be front and center. The Legislative Dinner annually brings together more than 400 of Indiana’s top business leaders as well as many of the state’s elected officials and agency heads.

The Legislative Dinner offers an opportunity for “the business community to come together with lawmakers and policymakers and let them know about the important issues that impact their organizations every day,” says Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar.

Presented by Ice Miller LLP, the Legislative Dinner reception will begin at 6 p.m. and the dinner will follow at 7 p.m. Tickets are $149 each or may be purchased as a table of 10 for $1,399; they are available at www.indianachamber.com/specialevents, or by calling or (800) 824-6885.

NIPSCO and St. Vincent are event gold sponsors. Silver sponsors are: Alcoa; AT&T Indiana; Bose Public Affairs Group LLC; Comcast Business; Delta Dental of Indiana; Eli Lilly and Company; French Lick Resort; Harman International Industries, Inc; The Kroger Co.; Majestic Star Casino & Hotel; Pfizer, Inc.; Roche Diagnostics Corporation; Smithville Communications, Inc; and Vectren.

Additional sponsorship opportunities are available by contacting Jim Wagner at (317) 264-6876 or jwagner@indianachamber.com.

Dan Evans: Early Childhood Education a Key to a Healthy Indiana

Dan Evans, President and CEO of Indiana University Health, explains why early childhood education and expanding preschool opportunities for families of all income levels is so critical to the health of our state.