CARA bridges skills gap

Crawfordsville Adult Resource Academy plans to offer more job placement certifications, part of an effort among adult education centers to bridge the skills gap in the workforce.

CARA was already moving in that direction when it began subcontracting with the Lafayette Adult Resource Academy, which became the fiscal agent of area resource centers through an Indiana Department of Workforce Development grant. The move took effect July 1.

No changes are anticipated to the Crawfordsville program. But Lafayette’s center offers more specialized classes not available through CARA, such as training for commercial driver’s licenses and certified nursing assistants.

CARA also partners with WorkOne to connect students with job opportunities.

A recent National Skills Coalition report sheds new light on the skills gap. The report found there aren’t enough adequately-trained workers in Indiana to fill middle-skill jobs.

Those jobs require training beyond high school, but not a four-year degree.

In Indiana, middle-skill jobs make up nearly 60 percent of the labor market, but just 47 percent of workers have the necessary training, according to a press release.

CARA has long offered free classes for students pursuing a high school equivalency diploma, formerly known as the GED. But state officials say that’s no longer enough.

The HSE is now seen as a stepping block to post-secondary, career training or accreditation opportunities.

“There is going to be a big push for us to get our students into that arena instead of just stopping at an HSE,” said Kathy Tobias, Crawfordsville’s adult education director.

Workforce development officials are changing their approach for educating post-secondary students.

A new model now allows students to receive remediation, workplace readiness skills and occupational training within the same class, shortening the time for completing the program and helping retain students.

Those classes would be developed in partnership with a training provider.

“What we saw even once our students got those high school equivalencies, they were still lacking the skills they needed to get into a position... at a level that could sustain their families,” said Marilyn Pitzulo, the state’s associate chief operating officer for adult education.

Tobias encourages local industries to support further education opportunities for their employees. For more information about CARA, call 765-362-2690.