by Brian Burton

Indiana is the most manufacturing intensive state in the US, representing 30% of our economy.  In Indiana, manufacturers employ more people and pay higher wages than any other industry in the state.  Our more than half a million workers in manufacturing production earn an average of $72,256 in annual compensation as opposed to $44,806 for all other non-farm business.  Manufacturing is still an attractive career opportunity, helping many workers climb the economic ladder.

Over the next decade, the Indiana manufacturing industry will need to hire upwards of 15,000 individuals per year due to planned expansion and Baby Boomer retirements. Growth opportunities in manufacturing employment abound, especially considering that Indiana manufacturers may not be able to fill 60% of their open positions in the next decade.

Indiana’s workforce development system is large, at more than $1 billion, spread over nine state agencies. This unwieldy system is difficult for both employers and their employees/potential employees to navigate.  Many argue this system should be overhauled, and the Indiana Manufacturers Association (IMA) wholeheartedly agrees. However, any change to this system needs to take into account our industry, which includes many small- and medium-sized employers employing hundreds of people in communities throughout the state.

The IMA believes that any change to the education and workforce development systems being discussed by the Indiana General Assembly should put employer and market needs first.  Existing or new programs should only be measured on their ability to add jobs or achieve wage increases for Hoosiers.  In order to do this, the workforce development system should be employer driven, should position Indiana to have a more competitive workforce, and should foster a climate that incentivizes economic growth and manufacturing retention within the state.

To this end, the IMA strongly supports the institution of true employer-driven training through the creation of an employer training tax credit in Indiana.  Specifically, the state should implement an employer training tax credit whereby employers receive credit for training expenses associated with partnering with Indiana public higher education institutions, high schools, career centers, or other state training providers. This tax credit should not cost the state any additional dollars.  Rather, the tax credit should replace existing programs that are deemed inefficient or ineffective.  This would be a business-driven solution to the state’s workforce issues in that it would require participating employers and their education partners to identify the missing skills needed to start and complete a valued credential or degree, which would benefit our industry’s workers and future workers.

Indiana legislators should support Indiana’s largest industry by enacting true employer-driven training that will help to employ people in Indiana’s highest wage industry – Manufacturing.

Brian Burton, President & CEO

Indiana Manufacturers Association