Chamber Talks Workforce Needs, Impact of Opioid Addiction as 2018 Legislative Session Begins

As the 2018 General Assembly gets underway, the Indiana Chamber is highlighting three big issues expected to be debated in the coming days and weeks: workforce needs, the opioid crisis and smoking rates.

Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar says, “We’ve done so well recently from an employment standpoint that we’ve almost outstripped our ability to hire skilled workers since unemployment is so low in the state.

“It’s clear we need to raise up the skills of those who are here, but the Indiana Chamber is also suggesting that perhaps we need to pursue a parallel strategy of recruiting people from out of state. Talent is more mobile than ever before and once people gethere, they really appreciate our cost of living.”

But make no mistake, Brinegar stresses, the state’s priority should be on the potential talent pool at home. That means some major changes will need to occur – ones that hopefully start in the new legislative session.
“What we’ve been doing wrong is saying, ‘Here is our program, you come use it and we hope that it will solve your needs.’ Instead, there should be a conscious effort to truly listen to employers and then develop training programs that are demand-driven to what the needs of the marketplace are now.”

Many of those jobs today and down the road are in the middle skills area – skills that require more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year bachelor’s degree. Brinegar states this should be a focus for both Hoosier workers who need to improve their skillset and young students.

“We know from our member companies that they are reaching down to high schools and even middle schools to explore with students what job opportunities there are with their companies, what skills they need to have, what classes they need to take in high school to be eligible to take those jobs. It’s becoming a lot more focused on getting people ready with some specificity for jobs after high school.

“There will always be the need for a number of jobs requiring a four-year degree or more, but the real growth is in show me what you know, show me what you can do, show me what machinery you can operate. That’s the mindset we need to have to transform some of these government silos … along with listening to employers and creating programs that communicate to young people what those job needs are.”

Additionally, the Indiana Chamber is partnering with the Governor’s office and the state’s drug czar, Jim McClelland, to be the source for the business component of the state’s plan to combat the opioid crisis.

“We will be researching on best practices, disseminating information to employers and putting on training programs. I’ve told the Governor’s office that we want to be part of the effort and part of the solution. It’s a big problem and it’s not going to be solved overnight, but this has become an employer problem in addition to a personal and societal problem,” Brinegar offers.

“We’ve rapidly gotten to the point to where employers almost can’t fire somebody for failing a drug test because there isn’t the depth in the workforce to tap into for new workers. Employers are looking for guidance. They want more information on what they can do, how they can train supervisors to recognize signs and know where the effective treatment programs are.”

The Indiana Chamber, a founding member of the Alliance for a Healthier Indiana, would like the same urgency placed on reducing the state’s smoking rates.

“There are 10 times more people dying from smoking-related illnesses every year than opioids. And it’s the most preventable source of disease,” Brinegar notes.

“We need to improve our health metrics, including obesity, which are in the bottom third of the states. I rarely accept average for anything, but if Indiana rose to be just average when it comes to smoking, that would significantly curb health issues and save those individuals and businesses a lot of money on insurance coverage and health care costs.”

Indiana’s current smoking rate is at 21% of the population; the national average is 15%.

Enhanced workforce efforts and reducing the state’s smoking rates are among the Indiana Chamber’s Top 9 legislative priorities for 2018. The full list is available at www.indianachamber.com/priorities.

“I Need My Tweets, Man!”

It appears Tweeting or checking emails may actually be more addictive than cigarettes or alcohol. The Guardian has the latest reason the human race is destined for some awful fate.

Tweeting or checking emails may be harder to resist than cigarettes and alcohol, according to researchers who tried to measure how well people could resist their desires.

They even claim that while sleep and sex may be stronger urges, people are more likely to give in to longings or cravings to use social and other media.

A team headed by Wilhelm Hofmann of Chicago University’s Booth Business School say their experiment, using BlackBerrys, to gauge the willpower of 205 people aged between 18 and 85 in and around the German city of Würtzburg is the first to monitor such responses "in the wild" outside a laboratory.

The results will soon be published in the journal Psychological Science.

The participants were signalled seven times a day over 14 hours for seven consecutive days so they could message back whether they were experiencing a desire at that moment or had experienced one within the last 30 minutes, what type it was, the strength (up to irresistible), whether it conflicted with other desires and whether they resisted or went along with it. There were 10,558 responses and 7,827 "desire episodes" reported.

"Modern life is a welter of assorted desires marked by frequent conflict and resistance, the latter with uneven success," said Hofmann. Sleep and leisure were the most problematic desires, suggesting "pervasive tension between natural inclinations to rest and relax and the multitude of work and other obligations".

The researchers found that as the day wore on, willpower became lower. Their paper says highest "self-control failure rates" were recorded with media. "Resisting the desire to work was likewise prone to fail. In contrast, people were relatively successful at resisting sports inclinations, sexual urges, and spending impulses, which seems surprising given the salience in modern culture of disastrous failures to control sexual impulses and urges to spend money."

Dallas City Hall Workers in Trouble/Treated for Too Much Facebook Use

Do you find yourself constantly looking at Facebook photos from your neighbor’s cousin’s 4th of July party? Or reading bios of friends of friends you’d like to ask out? Or building fences around your Farmville pig trough? If so, you may have a Facebook addiction. And while that may not seem as troublesome as substance abuse — or some guy who STILL can’t stop singing "Pokerface" (sorry, coworkers) — if you’re doing it at work, it’s an issue. The City Hall in Dallas, Texas recently discovered its staffers were spending way too much time on the site, and decided to handle it by offering counseling and reprimands:

Constantly checking Facebook at work may get you in trouble.

Two dozen Dallas City Hall workers received reprimands or counseling after a recent probe showed they spent too much time on the social networking site.

“It’s [Facebook at work] definitely on the ‘bad idea’ side,” said Dallas attorney Travis Crabtree. “You hear lots of horror stories out there about employees posting things about how they’re either playing hooky, or just fiddling around while they’re at the office and getting in trouble for it when their boss sees it.”

City officials are working on new employee guidelines for social media use. Dallas City Manager Mary Suhm says employees aren’t allowed to do personal business when they’re being paid by taxpayers.

“Computer equipment belongs to the company and technically your time belongs to the company too, while you’re there,” said Crabtree.

Cesar Baptista, an assistant director in the water department, had Facebook open for 68 hours during a three-month period. But Baptista said he often opened his Facebook page in the morning and didn’t close it while he did other things. He says he no longer opens the site at work.