Indiana Chamber’s Talent Resource Navigator facilitates connections with career development training

by Shari Finnell, editor/writer, Not-for-profit News

Seeking a better employment opportunity but not sure if you’re qualified? Or searching for quality career development training to equip an employee for a promotion?

Those are the types of questions that the Institute of Workforce Excellence (IWE), the Indiana Chamber’s charitable nonprofit, is addressing through its new Talent Resource Navigator, a web-based tool designed to help Indiana employers and individuals access educational and professional growth training programs from one location, according to Todd Hurst, IWE executive director.

The Navigator project, which has been in development for more than a year, streamlines the process of identifying and accessing hundreds of programs that address skills gaps in Indiana’s workforce. Funded by a $2.5 million Lilly Endowment grant, the site is free to employers and individuals. It also is available in Spanish and features a live customer service component.

The development of the online tool is in response to some frustrations experienced by employers across the state, as well as a shortage of skilled employees, according to Hurst.

Based on recent statistics, Indiana employers, like those in many other states, are experiencing difficulties in finding skilled employees to fill job openings. By 2029, 60 percent of net new jobs added in Indiana will require a postsecondary credential. However, only 43 percent of Indiana residents have a credential beyond high school.

While many institutions and organizations throughout the state offer workforce development and talent development training, many people don’t know how to access them — which is one of the challenges the Navigator addresses, Hurst said.

“At the Chamber, we continuously hear from employers that they don’t know where to turn, what’s available to them, or what they’re eligible for,” Hurst said. “Many are having difficulty finding talent. At the same time, the tool is designed to help individuals who don’t know what’s available to them or what career paths exist.”

Evolving to meet specific needs

When the IWE team first started working on the navigator project, the initial concept was to create a platform that puts everything in one place, including all state-funded programs, local nonprofit programs, and post-secondary programs, Hurst said.

“An individual or an employer could just go to one place, find a program, and learn about it,” he said.
“But we learned through conversations with stakeholders and employers across the state, while that’s great, there was still so much more that they needed.”

In some cases, Hurst said, employers and individuals recognized their challenges but didn’t necessarily know how to identify the solution or where to look in the system for the right answer.

The Navigator concept underwent numerous revisions to make it a more comprehensive and personalized experience. “We’ve evolved it to truly embody this navigator concept,” Hurst said.

Anyone accessing the Talent Resource Navigator can select from programs categorized based on location, industry, available funding, and anticipated outcomes. As a result, a person can quickly narrow down their selection to those that specifically address their needs or desired outcomes.

Another feature allows employers to perform a Talent Pipeline Assessment, which evaluates and benchmarks their current talent development strategies against nationally recognized best practices. After the employer completes the assessment, the Navigator will make recommendations about resources that align with their results.

“There’s a lot of good work happening in Indiana — fantastic regional strategies and community strategies that are really impactful,” Hurst said. “But unless you’re already plugged in, you may not know what’s available to you and how to connect to it. The Navigator is not a silver bullet, but we’re beginning to make stronger connections across organizations, among entities that may not have previously known about the other.”

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