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February 20, 2013

Senator: Skilled workers needed

Donnelly touring state to help create a more skilled work force

JEFFERSONVILLE — Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., is touring the state and making a push to create a more skilled Hoosier work force.

Donnelly is again sponsoring the America Works Act, which would designate existing federal funding toward educational programs that would allow workers to acquire industry-recognized credentials. As a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Donnelly sponsored the bill along with Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., in 2011. The bill died in committee.

But another push to build a more skilled work force is underway.

Donnelly’s first stop on his “Closing the Skills Gap Tour” Tuesday was at American Commercial Lines, Inc’s manufacturing segment, Jeffboat.

“When I was here about a month ago it was clear one of the great needs we have in Indiana ... is to continue to increase the skills of our workers,” he said. “The more we can do to train people to get them to a place where they can walk into Jeffboat on day one and be able to have the trades and skills necessary ... the better off we’ll be as a state. We’ll be more attractive to employers.”

Due to the skills gap, an estimated 600,000 high-skill jobs across the country remain vacant, according to a press release sent out by Donnelly ahead of his visit. 

Along with his visit to Jeffersonville, Donnelly’s tour will take him to five communities across Indiana. Other stops Tuesday included Evansville’s branch of Ivy Tech Community College and the College of Technology at Indiana State University in Terre Haute. The senator visited Eli Lily in Indianapolis Monday and plans to visit Aptera in Fort Wayne on Wednesday.

He explained by passing the America Works Act, federal dollars would be used to make sure that people have the skills and talents necessary to be able to contribute from day one at a workplace.   

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