• Become an SSTI Member

    As the most comprehensive resource available for those involved in technology-based economic development, SSTI offers the services that are needed to help build tech-based economies.  Learn more about membership...

  • Subscribe to the SSTI Weekly Digest

    Each week, the SSTI Weekly Digest delivers the latest breaking news and expert analysis of critical issues affecting the tech-based economic development community. Subscribe today!

New state efforts look to address skills gap in IN, NC, and SC

October 25, 2018
By: Robert Ksiazkiewicz

While job openings surpassed 7.1 million in August, companies across the country still are struggling to attract staff with relevant skills. To address this issue, states are developing new workforce development efforts to address the increased demand. These efforts have taken many different approaches including grants to communities, free online resources, mentorship programs, or stronger partnerships with industry. While these efforts may be diverse in their processes, they share commonalities, such as bringing together all stakeholders (e.g., industry, academia, government, nonprofits, and local workforce development boards) and providing those services locally across the state, or by leveraging online platforms.  Such efforts are reflected in new programs described below in Indiana, North Carolina and South Carolina.



Gov. Eric Holcomb announced Skillful Indiana to help people across the state identify high-demand jobs and the skills they need to fill them as well as help employers find and keep the talent they need to grow their businesses. The program also is intended to strengthen the skills of career advisors across the state. Skillful Indiana brings together the Markle Foundation, Microsoft Philanthropies, LinkedIn, Walmart, Lumina Foundation, Purdue University and Purdue Extension with the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet and local workforce development boards to create these better pathways to good jobs for state residents.

Based upon the Skillful Colorado model, Skillful Indiana will focus on accelerating the development of in-demand skills via a four-step process:

  • Working with employers to expand opportunities for people of diverse backgrounds and deepen the pool of qualified candidates by helping them to recruit and hire with a focus on skills, as well as encouraging employers to invest in skill building for their employees on the job, at colleges, or online.
  • Working with Indiana’s higher education community so that stakeholders are better able to anticipate economic shifts and be responsive to them, as well as supporting the advancement of skills-based credential and data platforms.
  • Investing in the professional development of career coaches at organizations like WorkOne, Purdue Extensions and local non-profits so that they are better equipped to connect Indianans to effective training opportunities and quality jobs.
  • Applying data-driven insights and technology tools to all of its efforts so that the same technologies that are disrupting the economy are put to good use in adapting to it. For example, online tools to create skills-based job postings and to assess the skills of job applicants.

North Carolina

Gov. Roy Cooper announced the creation of the NCWorks Local Innovation Fund — a $2 million fund that will provide grants to communities to pilot innovative programs or adapt/replicate successful programs that address local or regional workforce issues. The intent of the program is to help local ideas take shape and scale existing programs to reach more job seekers and businesses.

Three types of activities will be funded by NCWorks grants:

  • Address an underserved community or population currently disconnected from the education and workforce system;
  • Bring together diverse community organizations; and,
  • Increase educational attainment and develop talent pipelines for in-demand, high-wage occupations.

To be eligible for funding, the proposed effort must include local workforce development boards as well as education, community, labor and business leaders.

Housed within the North Carolina Department of Commerce, the state will make two types of grants including:

  • One-year “capacity grants” of up to $100,000 to assist communities that need additional capacity building to strengthen partnerships, identify community needs and resources, and build local support; and
  • Two-year “implementation grants” of up to $400,000 to assist communities that already have a collaborative team and an innovative idea ready for implementation, and have built the local support needed to be successful.

South Carolina

The South Carolina Department of Commerce’s Office of Innovation, in collaboration with Build Carolina, recently announced SC Codes — a new statewide program designed to provide free access to code education for all residents. The web-based platform connects state residents with industry mentors and provides pathways for continuing education and employment in technology-related fields. State residents can enroll in online classes that provide beginner to advanced curriculum, specifically designed with the demands of the state’s industries in mind. Through partnership with community organizations, SC Codes also will utilize cohort-style and classroom-led sessions.




Indiana, North Carolina, South Carolinaworkforce