South Bend | Elkhart Awarded $1.7M In Skill UP Funding

Published Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The South Bend Regional Chamber, Garatoni-Smith Family Foundation and Horizon Education Alliance partnered to secure $1.7 million in funding to support and advance the alignment of education and training in our region to meet industry needs. The Indiana Department of Workforce Development (DWD) created the Skill UP Grant opportunity to assist regions working to meet Indiana's projected need to fill more than one million jobs over the next decade. Of those million jobs, more than a third will be new or growth occupations within the state.

It's estimated that nearly 30,000 job openings per year will require an industry-recognized certificate/certification in addition to a high school diploma. Approximately 13,500 certificates are earned annually in Indiana in either high school or post-secondary, but only 9,200 of these certificates are in high-demand, high-wage (HDHW) fields.  DWD has identified more than 100 occupations which align with many of these opportunities.


The Skill UP grant funding supports the development of Innovation Networks. Innovation Networks are centered around employers, educators, economic and workforce development partners, as well as other critical community partners to skill up students, adults and incumbent workers within a regional labor market. These networks are data driven, focusing on the 109 In Demand Occupations outlined on Indiana's Regional Labor Market Dashboard, or possible emerging occupations in our region, and focus on designing effective strategies to ensure that Indiana communities have a strong talent pipeline.

The South Bend|Elkhart Innovation Network includes
St. Joseph, Elkhart and Marshall county business leaders, K-12 and post-secondary education and training providers, workforce organizations, chambers and economic development groups. All participants are committed to building a dynamic region that develops, attracts and retains skilled workers. The initial areas of focus will be Advanced Manufacturing and IT, both key drivers of our regional and state economy. Digital innovation within manufacturing in our region is accelerating, creating a shared focus on core skill sets and increasing the need for cross-sector coordination.

The top concern of IT and manufacturing leaders is finding well-trained people to meet the 20-30% growth in jobs they, and the DWD, project by 2024. Based on a recent IT Workforce Needs Survey completed by the Chamber, and published occupational data, there is a significant shortage of IT talent at all levels in our region. To sustain and accelerate current economic growth, the need for quality IT and manufacturing talent must be met quickly, with a sustainable plan.


Skill UP funding will allow us to move forward more quickly on the work outlined in the submitted plan:

•Establish industry-led, county-level Advanced Manufacturing Sector Partnerships and an industry-led, regional IT Sector Partnership to provide input and guidance on existing and emerging workforce needs; help develop and align the education and training needed to succeed in those jobs, and engage with students and adults to help them better understand IT and manufacturing career opportunities. Career and training awareness-building activities, such as Manufacturing Day, will continue and grow with increased staffing support.

•Build out the South Bend|Elkhart Region Education and Workforce Committee, with cross-sector representation, to serve as the hub for Advanced Manufacturing and IT Sector Partnerships, foster development of additional priority sector partnerships, and lead implementation of cross-sector strategies that build awareness of the wide variety of careers in our region, including healthcare, business services, construction trades, hospitality and more.

•Create a fully-integrated, regional pathways system that is responsive to current and projected workforce needs, and ensures students, working, and non-working adults, have access to the education and high-demand job opportunities available in our region. The sector-focused networks will support individuals as they navigate their career pathways, helping them to increase their skills and create opportunities for advancement.

•Lay the foundation for a robust apprenticeship model in our region, beginning with a grant-supported model underway in Elkhart County. This model will be shared with regional employers, both within manufacturing and
in other industries, to determine what they might
replicate, adapt and implement within their own talent development efforts.