Among the many issues impacting my community is the continuing trend of seeing our best and brightest leaving for college and not returning to the region to begin their careers, purchase a home, start a family or to start a business. I came to Richmond in 1992, and the issue of dealing with “Brian Drain” has seemingly been on the list of challenges facing our community for 25 years, and sadly it does not appear we are having much success in overcoming the problem.
In April 2017, Purdue University, in partnership with the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, Lilly Endowment, Indiana Department of Workforce Development, and Indiana INTERNnet, hosted Indiana’s Talent Gap and Brain Drain/Gain Workshop – Making Indiana a Magnet for Jobs and Talent. This collaborative workshop focused on the continued assertions of a talent/skills gap encountered by Indiana businesses and a brain-drain of Indiana graduates leaving for the coasts.
Here are a few of the key takeaways from the workshop:
- The talent/skills gap is real. The Indiana Chamber of Commerce’s annual survey continues to find that many companies have unfilled positions resulting from a shortage of qualified applicants. The Indiana Department of Workforce Development analysis of 109 occupations it tracks indicates that there are 25,000-30,000 jobs available, but we are only creating 8,000-9,000 people to fill those jobs.
- Currently only 42% of central Indiana residents have a postsecondary credential and an analysis by the Purdue Center for Regional Development shows that Indiana also is falling further behind the rest of the nation in the proportion of its adult citizens who have a bachelor’s degree or higher.
- Ascend Indiana projects that by 2020, 200,000 jobs in central Indiana will go unfilled.
- Indiana employers report that the most common deficiency they see in potential employees is a lack of professional skills (sometimes called “soft skills”), including teamwork, oral and written communication, time management, problem-solving, work ethic and the ability to accept and learn from criticism.
- Experiential learning opportunities are have proven to be effective in better preparing students to be employees and in retaining talent for Indiana companies. Many of the workshop attendees reported that co-op and internship programs are key components in their company’s recruitment strategies.
So, what can, or better yet should, we as Indiana CPAs do to help reverse these trends? We all depend on a successful and growing business community to earn our living and if these trends continue it is only logical to expect financial and employment opportunities for Indiana CPAs to be adversely impacted, and our pool of “talent” in the future to shrink.
At our firm we are very involved with our local Chamber and Economic Development Corporation in supporting local business development programs and human capital development issues. In addition, we are active participants in a variety of initiatives focused on individual financial stability, addressing basic necessities and quality of place. What’s good for our community will be good for our clients, our people and our firm.
I would welcome hearing from colleagues what you are doing to help your community and to improve Indiana’s economy.
View the complete Indiana’s Talent Gap and Brain Drain/Gain Workshop Report