Bartels: Meeting the needs of local job providers, workforce

After weathering the pandemic, many Hoosier small-business owners now face a labor shortage. The Indiana Department of Workforce Development reported the number of open jobs statewide has increased 25% from early August to early October.

A recent visit to a Dubois County manufacturer shined the light on the difficulty hiring in today’s market. Todd Fromme, a Jasper native, owns Universal Technologies, specializing in plastic, acrylics, and LED lighting. When the pandemic hit, this resilient entrepreneur shifted to making plexiglass dividers, but now, like many employers, he has trouble increasing his workforce to keep up with demand.

While there are a lot of factors affecting the worker shortage, Indiana is committed to helping Hoosiers skill up and obtain better-paying jobs. Indiana’s Next Level Jobs provides opportunities to earn credentials to secure in-demand jobs for free. With Workforce Ready Grants, tuition costs are covered as Hoosiers earn an eligible, high-value certificate from Ivy Tech Community College or Vincennes University.

For those who want to quickly earn a job certification – in less than six months – there’s a program called Accelerate Indiana, which helps offset the cost of training with loans of up to $7,500.

In addition, Hoosiers are also voicing concerns about the federal vaccine mandate on private employers and how it could make it harder to hire or retain workers. I strongly oppose President Biden’s vaccine mandate for employers. The decision of whether to get vaccinated or not should be left to individuals.

As your state representative, I will continue to find ways on the state level to combat federal mandates while supporting efforts to grow and skill up the Hoosier workforce.

Stephen Bartels, State Representative


  1. Mr. Bartels, the lack of people to fill the job openings in Dubois County and surrounding areas is more related to lack of affordable housing than a vaccine mandate. Remember, the mandate is for companies of more than 100 employees which includes masking and testing as an alternative to vaccines. Most employers want employees to be vaccinated so that everyone can work in a safe environment where the company knows the employees will not get caught in a cycle of quanrantines and missed work.

    You as a legislator should be focused on giving developers incentives to build new affordable homes in Dubois County while providing tax incentives for current homeowners to make improvements to their homes. Instead the threat of the useless Mid-States Corridor is keeping farmers, businesses and homeowners from investing in their farms, companies, and homes.

    Put the people of your district before politics.

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