Indiana's Advanced Manufacturing & Logistics Industries

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Conexus Indiana Seeks To Attract Young Hoosiers to High-Skill, High-Demand Careers in Advanced Manufacturing & Logistics

Dream It, Do It Campaign and Website Anchor Efforts To Dispel Misperceptions about High-Tech Manufacturing and Logistics

As Northern Indiana's economy has adjusted to the Digital Age and global e-commerce via the Internet, gigantic changes also have occurred in the Hoosier State's backbone of manufacturing products and transporting them to customers worldwide. In fact, factory workers once referred to as "blue collar" now are called specialists in advanced manufacturing and logistics operations. The current phrase reflects new requirements for more advanced levels of education and skills as well as higher levels of pay and benefits than earned by prior generations of manufacturing workers.

Large numbers of factory and ware- house jobs within Indiana and surrounding states at one time spurred a nickname for the Midwest as the "Rust Belt." But the name and traditional factory jobs are long gone.

HIGH-TECH, SKILL JOBS Using Computers, Robots, GPS
"Today's advanced manufacturing and logistics jobs are high-tech and high-skill, more about computers, robotics and global tracking systems than assembly lines and forklifts," Conexus Indiana said June 15, 2010, in a website, Dream It, Do It Indiana.com.

A nonprofit initiative to capitalize on emerging opportunities in advanced manufacturing and logistics, Conexus Indiana delves into issues like workforce development, exploring new market opportunities and building research and supplier networks to help Indiana manufacturing and logistics firms succeed.

Moreover, another current reality is that retirement is nearing for huge numbers of Hoosiers working in advanced manufacturing and logistics (AML) jobs; in this light, a campaign called "Dream It, Do It" is underway to attract young people ages 16-to-24 to careers in AML. An upcoming retirement tidal wave is projected to spur a shortage of qualified workers in AML's high-growth sectors, including medical manufacturing, aerospace, supply chain management, electric vehicles and other clean technologies.

INDIANA NEEDS COMPETITIVE 
Workers with Advanced Skills
"To maintain our position as first in the nation in manufacturing, Indiana has to remain competitive in human capital," said Claudia Cummings, vice president of workforce and community programs for Conexus. Dream It, Do It uses interactive, multimedia technology and social media networks in an effort to attract young people.

"We're going to be using Facebook, YouTube and Twitter with our centerpiece being this robust website with multimedia activities including games, videos and quizzes," she added. For instance, a site visitor could watch videos featuring some of Indiana's high-tech companies within advanced manufacturing and logistics, including engines manufactured by Rolls-Royce for unmanned military aircraft, sleek cars powered by EnerDel's lithium-ion batteries and FedEx jets going air- borne with packages processed in Indianapolis.

Conexus also seeks to dispel outdated perceptions of AML activities. Prior to the Dream It, Do It campaign, "if you asked high school kids what logistics meant," said Cathy Langham, owner and president of Langham Logistics of Indianapolis, "they didn't know. They had no idea." The campaign seeks to provide insights to Hoosiers, including that logistics is "not just driving trucks," she added. "This will help kids understand what AML is and the opportunities."

Over several years, Langham Logistics has faced difficulties in hiring individuals for positions at all levels. "From basic skills up to the higher-level skills," she explained, "it's not easy. It's been very difficult to find people with the skills we look for."