Indiana News

House Leaders Join Forces on Job Skills Bill

Proposal would create state council to better align job training efforts

1/24/2013


Left to right: House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis), House Minority Leader Scott Pelath (D-Michigan City), Reps. Ben Smaltz (R-Auburn) and Steven Braun (R-Zionsville), Indiana Chamber president Kevin Brinegar. (WIBC.com photo: Eric Berman)

Leaders in the Indiana House are forging a rare alliance behind a bill aimed at creating a better-skilled workforce in Indiana.

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It's believed to be the first time in 18 years the House speaker and minority leader have actively pushed a bill together. The bill authored by Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) and Minority Leader Scott Pelath (D-Michigan City) would create an Indiana Career Council of government, business and labor leaders to solve a jobs riddle: Indiana has enough job vacancies to put its quarter-million unemployed to work, but the skills those people have don't match the skills that are needed.

The 15-member panel would be similar to the Indiana Education Roundtable, which brings together stakeholders to chart education policy. Bosma and Pelath say the council would try to anticipate what skills will be in demand a few years down the road, and how to shape school curricula to address them.

Pelath, a human resources officer, says the need isn't just for oft-discussed math and science skills, but for written and verbal communication and the ability to assemble a spreadsheet.

Governor Pence has proposed similar regional councils to promote vocational education for students who aren't college-bound. Bosma says the two proposals will probably be combined as the session goes on.

The proposal will keep its bipartisan stamp in the Senate, where President Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne) and Minority Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) plan to co-sponsor it. The bill is scheduled for a House committee hearing on Tuesday.

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