WINONA LAKE — In the storied East Banquet Room of Grace College’s Westminster Hall, a room where it is said the Rev. Billy Graham launched his noteworthy evangelism career, the subject of jobs was the hot topic Thursday morning, June 28.
A gathering of local politicians, educators and captains of industry filled the banquet room to hear an update on state job initiatives from the newly-named Secretary of Career Connections and Talent Blair Milo. The U.S. Navy veteran and former mayor of LaPorte discussed programs designed to find qualified candidates for an ever-changing workforce such as NextLevel Jobs and Workforce Ready Grants.
Milo told the audience that the current job market, coupled with a technology-driven workforce in constant flux makes staying ahead of constantly-evolving needs a must.
‘We know that across the state of Indiana, we have around 85,000 or so postings that we see of positions that employers are looking to fill,” Milo said. “That helps us to know that with that type of a volume, we need to improve our system to connect workers with some of the opportunities to close the gaps that exist; and then be able to recruit talent to fill those different postings that we’re seeing.”
Milo told the audience that attempting to forecast the future job market is essential in order to stay ahead of the job market evolution.
“We know that the future of work is changing faster than it ever has before,” she said. “I’ve seen studies that show anywhere from nine to up to 60 percent of the positions that a student who is in kindergarten today will be taking don’t yet exist. As we think about how we’re developing those talent pipelines, it informs the process for us to think that we may not know what those jobs look like, but we have ideas around some of the trends of where the technology is taking us.”
Milo also said that while it may be impossible to predict every new job that will come as a result of advancing technology, some skills that have existed since the dawn of employment will still play a vital role.
“The skills that we need to make sure that we’re cultivating for our students are around critical thinking, problem solving, team building, communication elements — those things that technology can’t necessarily do — those human traits,” said said.
Milo said her new role will be to help put in place an overall system designed to bolster current strengths in the workplace, while shoring up weaknesses and predicting changing trends.
“That helps inform us around developing our talent system, our education and workforce training programs into having a system that’s going to be nimble enough to shift to those changing needs,” she said. “As we see technology take on new roles faster than ever before, we can attract talent and connect talent to those opportunities that are changing and that look different in a much faster way than we have before.”