State of Indiana’s Advanced Manufacturing Workforce

Daily headlines telegraph the overwhelming challenge the nation faces with the gap in open jobs and available workers. As COVID-19 raged on, the gap only widened, and the worker shortage was felt by most Americans as they stood in long lines at the grocery store, restaurant or gas station and found few employees to help them complete a transaction. The worker shortage has finally gained mainstream attention.

The nation’s manufacturers don’t need headlines to tell them what they have been experiencing for years. The lack of skilled workers has been a persistent problem for the nation’s – and Indiana’s – advanced manufacturing industry. As Indiana’s largest industry sector, which accounts for 26 percent of the state’s economic output and employs more than 520,000 Hoosiers, Indiana’s advanced manufacturers are experiencing a skills gap that continues to grow with an estimated 83,000 to 95,000 unfilled positions by the end of 2022. That translates to an enormous statewide financial impact – up to $6.8 billion in net losses for Hoosier advanced manufacturers and tax revenue for the state of Indiana.

The talent development challenge is clear and Hoosier manufacturers, state leaders and Conexus Indiana are squarely focused on solutions.

“The State of Indiana’s Advanced Manufacturing Workforce” paints a vivid and comprehensive picture of today’s workforce and uncovers opportunities to skill up more Hoosiers to succeed in the advanced manufacturing industry. Importantly, this data will serve as a baseline against which to measure the success of current and new programs and policies that are developed specifically to positively impact the Hoosier workforce and manufacturers.

The report is a collaborative effort led by Conexus Indiana with support of the Indiana Governor’s Workforce Cabinet, Indiana Department of Workforce Development (DWD), Fourth Economy Consulting, Katz, Sapper & Miller (KSM), Ice Miller and members of the Conexus Indiana Advanced Manufacturing Council.

Compounding the advanced manufacturing talent shortage is an aging workforce, continuous workforce turnover and a decline in women’s employment, all of which have been exacerbated by the pandemic. At the same time, the labor participation rate in Indiana hovers at 62.4 percent and has been declining over time. There is clearly a need to engage with these populations to increase the pool of workers available to the advanced manufacturing industry (a one percent increase would equate to 53,000 Hoosier workers).

This report provides a statewide analysis and dives deep into these issues on a regional basis, looking at three workforce regions that are outsized in terms of advanced manufacturing intensity – regions 2 (North Central Indiana), 3 (Northeast Indiana) and 11 (Southwest Indiana).

The second half of our report analyzes Indiana’s workforce pipeline from the kindergarten through post-secondary and adult education and pinpoints opportunities in the talent development ecosystem, specifically as it pertains to high school students and Career and Technical Education (CTE). Indiana is clearly not enrolling and graduating enough secondary students to succeed in Indiana’s advanced manufacturing industry. In fact, data show that the CTE pipeline is not sufficient to fill current open positions in any Indiana region of the state.

I invite you to read this report, perhaps looking at data specific to your area of expertise or region. There is some great work being done already to tackle this issue but as a state we need to align programs that clearly impact some of the most pronounced gaps this report has identified.

Download the report here or read it below.

Brad Rhorer
Chief Talent Programs Officer
Conexus Indiana