The House of Representatives recently passed a bill seeking to make it easier for high school students to find high-wage, high-demand jobs through career, vocational, and technical educational opportunities, but one area vocational director has his concerns about the bill.
Governor Mike Pence hailed the passage of the Indiana Works Councils Bill, which he said demonstrates the commitment of Hoosiers to make career and vocational education a priority in every high school. The bill integrates local and state resources by creating regional Indiana Works Councils with membership including representation from employers and educators.
However, SCILL Center Director Jerry Gurrado said that while it can be very beneficial for the area, it might not benefit our area as much as we hope. The idea behind it, however, is a good one, and Gurrado said it could greatly help area employers.
“It creates this council that looks at a particular region and says, ‘These are skills that need to be taught. We have a dire need for x,’ and then a place like the SCILL Center puts together a vocational program to help serve that need. That can really help the SCILL Center because it allows us to expand into new vocational areas,” Gurrado said.
Gurrado said the councils could help area employers by providing them with a trained workforce fresh out of high school, but it could also backfire. He said how the regions are defined is a critical factor, stating that if Starke County and the surrounding area fall into the same region as areas that are more focused on steel mills or other industries, the strong need for welders and other skilled workers in our area could be overlooked.
Gurrado said having someone like Charles Weaver of the Starke County Economic Development Foundation would be ideal, as he understands the needs of area businesses in Starke County and the surrounding area. He said the voice of our region should be heard as part of these Works Councils.