Building a Pipeline of Talent

Many questions about the U.S. economy remain after the Great Recession. For many employers and employees, one of the most critical issues focuses on what kind of employees will be needed to keep our business competitive and successful?

Having a current pool of qualified applicants for available jobs is no longer sufficient for this success. The enormous investment made when a new facility is constructed will generate maximum returns when a pipeline of future workers exists to meet the long-term needs of a business.

In 2007, Cummins Engine, the world’s largest producer of industrial-sized diesel engines located in Southeast Indiana, estimated that over the next seven years, 65% of its workforce would be turning over due chiefly to retirements. When looking at the current trends in college enrollments and courses of study chosen by students, Cummins publicly wondered if there would be enough workers to fill its needs by 2015.

The Southeast Indiana region responded to this challenge with a multi-year initiative called EcO15 (Economic Opportunities Through Education by 2015). Recognizing the historical educational attainment levels in the region would no longer meet the demands of industry in the future, EcO15 set out to:

Increase enrollment in Advanced Manufacturing Programs
Increase enrollment in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM
Increase High School Graduation Rates
Increase Job Placements
Increase Awareness of Career Opportunities

EcO15 is Southeast Indiana’s sustainable pipeline for supplying our employers with skilled, qualified applicants for the 21st-Century economy.

The Switzerland County Economic Development Corporation is the lead partner for EcO15 in our community. Under our direction, a new Advanced Manufacturing lab and curriculum has been established at the Switzerland County High School. An adult education and training facility is under construction, and will be open in late-2011. And a public-awareness campaign has been launched to inform our residents of the types of skills needed by employers, emphasizing lifelong skill enhancement as the key to an individual’s—and to employers’—success.