Progress Report: Mission41K
In September, TechPoint brought together nearly 200 public, private, academic, and community leaders to launch Mission41K, a bold new movement to inclusively grow the state’s tech workforce by 41,000 by 2030 and solidify Indiana’s national reputation as a vibrant tech hub.
Growing Indiana’s tech talent workforce is key to fueling digital innovation, growing the state gross domestic product across all sectors and providing rewarding careers and pathways to opportunity for Hoosiers.
In just three months, we’ve seen great response to Mission41K from leaders across all sectors and levels in the state. We’ll need more in 2023.
Skills-based hiring is gaining traction
One of the foundational strategies supporting Mission41K is helping employers adopt a skills-based approach to hiring, developing, and retaining talent. In partnership with the Markle Foundation, TechPoint is supporting tech and tech-driven employers to adopt skills-based practices. In fall 2022 34 participants registered for information sessions on skills-based practices. Ten participants from eight organizations devoted 54 hours to attending workshops incorporating the Skillful Talent Series developed by Markle as part of the TechPoint Skills-First Learning Experience. These employers are in the process of re-working hiring practices and job descriptions to remove artificial barriers such as relying replying on degrees and years of experience to screed candidates. They are adopting practices that help companies define what they truly need in a hire and to search for those specific skills and competencies.
Data from the TechPoint 2022 Workforce Report, which will be released soon, shows the collective work of TechPoint Mission41K partners is starting to move the needle. From June to November 2022, the percentage of tech and tech-related job postings in Indiana that required a bachelor’s degree or higher declined from 60 percent to 58 percent.
As Mission41K partner and Minority Moves Network (M2N)Chief Executive Officer Eric Stanley states: “The message is getting out. Employers are beginning to recognize that focusing on skills helps them better identify the talent they truly need and overcoming the dependency on using degrees and years of experience to simplify screening allows them to get bigger, more diverse, and better aligned pools of applicants.”
Tech apprenticeship is taking root
Adopting a talent development approach rather than relying solely on talent attraction and recruiting is another Mission41K strategy that quickly took off. TechPoint is partnering with EmployIndy and Ascend Indiana to promote Modern Youth Apprenticeship (MAP), a paid two- to three-year work-based learning experience with local employers through which students earn high school diplomas, college credits, relevant credentials, as well as professional experience. EmployIndy and Ascend launched MAP in 2021, and in 2022 is seeking increased interest from employers, especially for hard-to-fill tech roles such as software development.
Adult apprenticeship is a proven strategy for developing talent in hard-to-fill roles, and Indiana has a strong record of success with it in the construction-related trades and areas such as advanced manufacturing. Adult apprenticeship has not been widely adopted for tech and tech-related roles, however, until very recently.
TechPoint is partnering with NEW Apprenticeship to bring a scalable, state-wide system for adult apprenticeship to the tech sector and tech-related roles in Indiana. Adult apprenticeship offers employers a way to quickly hire and develop talent in critical areas. Apprentices receive pre-apprenticeship training and certification to be prepared to contribute day one, and then earn a middle-class wage and work for a year, while receiving further training and certification “on the job.”
This partnership launched with strong participation from Allegion and Eli Lilly and Company, which combined will employ nearly 30 apprentices in fields including software development, IT support, cloud, project management and CNC program and systems control. Cummins and Cornerstone Information Services plan to hire apprentices in early 2023.
Mission41K partner, the Indiana Office of Technology (IOT), is seeing remarkable success in its State Earn and Learn Apprenticeship program. More than 45 adult apprentices are currently working and learning in a range of tech roles for IoT and other agencies.
The success of the program has been terrific for both IoT and participants. Other organizations are taking note. We’re doing something that others really would like to have to follow,” says Jon Rogers, IOT’s director of workforce planning.
Collaborations are underway
Mission41 is about lifting up Hoosiers who have historically faced barriers and challenges. It is about meeting employers’ critical need for talent, and it is about catalyzing innovation and economic growth because talent is the oil of the Digital Age.
This collective action movement requires creative partnership and collaboration across all sectors to reach its bold goals. The Launch Mission41K event was designed to spark partnerships and seed creative problem-solving; initiatives that were kick-started out of Mission41K show the ignition caught fire and that collaborations and innovations are spreading.
Examples of Collaborations through Mission41K:
- More than 50 Indiana tech leaders have already taken the pledge to help accomplish Mission41K.
- Mission41K partners Hope Training Academy, Flanner House and Indiana Wesleyan University are developing a systematic approach to creating opportunity for Hoosiers of color, through community centered programs, professional training and connections to employer partners. These efforts will lead participants to tech careers and are directly linked to Mission41K, says Hope Training Academy Founder and CEO Rick Barretto. “We found our partners at Mission41K, and we are excited about the impact we can make together and in partnership with TechPoint,” he said.
- TechPoint and Mission41K partner InnoPower developed the idea of community-led problem-solving as a result of discussions sparked by the Launch Mission41K event. Working with Terri Wage of Collab, InnoPower and TechPoint have already held well-attended community design sessions in Gary and Indianapolis. A third session is slated for Thursday, December 15, in Fort Wayne. These sessions are designed to understand the needs, barriers and aspirations of Black talent in Indiana and with that information build robust and effective solutions to open pathways of opportunity and connect Black talent to Hoosier employers.
- Anecdotal evidence shows conversations are indeed taking place as a result of the launch of Mission41K and subsequent information sharing. Those efforts include suggestions for Hoosier employers to take advantage of federal laws encouraging international students to work in the U.S. immediately after graduation for up to three years without requiring formal Visas or green cards.
- Mission41k partners including Indy Women in Tech and Muncie-based Women Working in Tech, are working to extend and elevate programing that attracts, supports and develops women working in tech careers.
Indiana policymakers support Mission41K
The clear and positive response to Mission41K while validating, is not surprising. But it is not enough to achieve all that we must. Indiana has long benefitted from collaboration among employers, policy makers, community leaders and educators. To fully realize our goals, we must also have financial and policy buy-in if we are to inclusively grow Indiana’s workforce by 41,000 by 2030.
To that end, we were heartened in November when Indiana House of Representatives Speaker Todd Huston referred to Mission41K at an Indiana Technology and Innovation (ITIA) gathering and made a powerful challenge.
“Forty-one thousand is not high enough,” he said. “We need to do better than that. We can grow the workforce by more than that.”
The ITIA’s policy agenda calls on the Indiana General Assembly in 2023 to support policies that develop, attract and retain a diverse tech workforce such as:
- Including computer science and technology as a high school graduation requirement to equip more students with technology skills, particularly girls and students of color;
- Funding and incentives for technology-focused career exploration and discovery programs, such as robotics; and
- Supporting apprenticeships, internships and other pathways into the tech industry.
- Incentives and efforts to retain and attract talent in Indiana.
Why Mission41K is bigger than Indiana tech
This can-do Indiana attitude, combined with collective action, will enable us to meet the bold goals of Mission41K. This effort is bigger than Indiana tech sector alone. Each economic sector in Indiana must adapt to digital innovations that are transforming factory floors, agricultural fields, healthcare and offices throughout the globe. That adaptation relies on a steady and growing supply of tech professionals who will implement – and even create more – digital innovations.
If you haven’t yet publicly joined the effort, we encourage you to learn more about Mission41K and take the Mission41K pledge at www.techpoint.org/mission41.
Learn about joining one of our upcoming Skills-First Learning cohorts.