The Northwest Indiana Workforce Board hosted this year’s Workforce Summit in Merrillville. The most pressing piece of information to surface from this year’s summit was the state of Starke County’s unemployment rate. In March of 2009 the unemployment rate in Starke County was more than 15 percent. The most recent statistic from October of this year showed an unemployment rate of 6.1 percent. That is an 9 percent drop in 5 years!
The extensive drop is due to the introduction of industry-driven training around the community. The abundance of available jobs was accomplished by establishing Starke County Initiative for Life Long Learning (SCILL). The SCILL center focuses on determining needed skills and the development of short-course training programs for the current workforce.
The Indiana North Central Regional Vocational Cooperative now provides training programs in automobile technology and welding certification that teach students a trade which can be applied to a job in the workforce after high school. Potential programs planned for the near future include equipment maintenance, robotics and automation and four-year apprenticeships following high school graduation.
Starke County’s workforce development leadership role has be acknowledged by all seven counties in northwest Indiana and has received a personal congratulations from Jennifer Mason, a Chicago-based regional representative for the U.S Secretary of Labor.