Business, education, government and philanthropic leaders join forces to help solve workforce development crisis

INDIANAPOLIS – More than 100 Indiana leaders, including corporate CEOs, university presidents, K-12 superintendents and state government officials, have joined a coalition to develop a statewide modern youth apprenticeship system in Indiana as one potential solution to the state’s mounting workforce crisis.

The group recently kicked off a 10-month Implementation Lab (referred to as an iLab), an intensive collaborative that will result in a comprehensive, statewide plan to increase the number of available modern youth apprenticeships. The youth apprenticeship model allows 11th grade high school students to participate in a three-year, paid work-and-learn program. The apprenticeship culminates in a high school diploma, college credit and an industry credential, while at the same time preparing students for in-demand careers. CEMETS iLab Indiana is the brainchild of Ursula Renold, Ph.D., and Katie Caves, Ph.D., of the Center on Economics and Management of Education and Training Systems (CEMETS) at ETH Zurich, who are considered the preeminent experts in workplace learning research and implementation.

Indiana’s long-standing talent shortages worsened during the pandemic and are projected to increase due to an aging population and only a 63% labor force participation rate. Further, by 2031, 72% of jobs in the U.S. will require postsecondary education and/or training. Indiana is not on track to meet that need, with only 39% of Hoosier adults 25 years and over having an associate degree or higher. To complicate matters, college enrollment in Indiana declined from 65% in 2015 to 53% in 2021. All told, for each high school graduating class, only about 30% earn a college degree – meaning 70% enter the labor market without a degree or credential.

“We must take bold action to reform Indiana’s education and workforce development system to deliver better outcomes for individuals, employers and the state’s economy,” said David Becker, chairman and chief executive officer of First Internet Bank and co-chair of CEMETS iLab Indiana. “By forming this unprecedented coalition and increasing apprenticeship opportunities, we can change the trajectory of Indiana’s workforce issues and strengthen our state’s economy.”

The iLab’s members – listed below – include leaders in business, education, government and philanthropy, many of whom became supporters of the modern youth apprenticeship movement during a September 2023 Indy Chamber Leadership Exchange trip to see Switzerland’s system in action. The Swiss are internationally recognized for their system, with two-thirds of 10th graders entering a three- or four-year paid apprenticeship from about 250 different occupations spanning all sectors of the economy.

While on the trip, Claire Fiddian-Green, president and CEO of the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation and iLab co-chair, announced a $180,000 grant that would allow CEMETS to host an iLab in Indiana. “CEMETS iLab Indiana will support stakeholders working to scale modern youth apprenticeship programs both in the Indianapolis region and statewide,” said Fiddian-Green. “By making Indiana a leader in work-based learning, we’re seeking to become a top destination for employers looking to expand existing businesses and entrepreneurs working to launch new businesses.”

The iLab’s members are divided into committees that focus on the roles of relevant stakeholder groups – employers, high schools and higher education institutions. The iLab is specifically targeting how to scale youth apprenticeship across three industry groupings – banking and insurance, life sciences and healthcare, and advanced manufacturing, all of which face increasing talent shortages. Also, a key deliverable of the iLab is the recommendation of a governing and operating structure that can oversee the work to scale youth apprenticeship statewide, eventually spanning all sectors of Indiana’s economy.

Because of the Fairbanks Foundation’s years-long investment to bring the modern youth apprenticeship system to Indiana, it is providing subject matter expertise and partnering with CEMETS leadership to oversee the iLab from inception to completion. Ascend Indiana, the talent and workforce development initiative of Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, is providing project management for iLab committees, offering opportunities for industry leaders to see apprenticeships in action, and coordinating convenings of iLab stakeholders. The Indy Chamber is conducting an industry occupation analysis to inform the iLab’s work and will develop a plan for how to communicate about modern youth apprenticeship to employers and other stakeholders.

To fund the management of the iLab, the Fairbanks Foundation awarded a $100,000 grant to the Indy Chamber, and a portion of the Fairbanks Foundation’s existing $6 million grant to Ascend Indiana is being used to fund their work with the iLab. Ascend will also support industry-specific trips for iLab committee members.

“iLab Indiana is key to unlocking the ability for our state to meet talent needs by connecting many more youth with work-based learning opportunities,” said Melina Kennedy, CEO, Central Indiana Corporate Partnership. “CICP is well-positioned to support this coalition through its industry sector initiatives. Further, Ascend brings a unique perspective to coordinate this effort given their expertise as a workforce intermediary that also convenes a statewide youth apprenticeship community of practice.”

“Our current system isn’t meeting the needs of students, employers or the state. The modern youth apprenticeship model is a unique opportunity to invest in homegrown Hoosier talent and to meet the needs of tomorrow’s economy,” said Matt Mindrum, president and CEO, Indy Chamber. “Together, we can position Indiana as a leader and innovator in education reform and workforce development.”

The ultimate goal of CEMETS iLab Indiana is to ensure that by 2034, every student and adult learner in Indiana has access to high-quality education and training options. Reaching this goal will enable all Hoosiers to discover their passions, reach their fullest potential, and meaningfully contribute to the economic and civic vitality of their communities.


Note: This roster is current as of Jan. 18, 2024.


Governing Committee

David Becker, co-chair Chairman & CEO, First Internet Bank 
Claire Fiddian-Green, co-chair President & CEO, Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation 
Senator Rod Bray President Pro Tempore of the Indiana Senate, District 37
Jeff Harrison President & CEO, Citizens Energy Group
Representative Todd Huston Speaker of the Indiana House of Representatives, District 37
Dr. Katie Jenner Indiana Secretary of Education
Melina Kennedy CEO, Central Indiana Community Partnership
Chris Lowery Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education
Matt Mindrum President & CEO, Indy Chamber
Mario Rodriguez Executive Director, Indianapolis Airport Authority
Pamela Whitten President, Indiana University



Industry Committee

Mike Ash, co-chair Regional President, Fifth Third Bank                                                      
Dennis Murphy, co-chair President & CEO, Indiana University Health
Scott Bove South Region President, Star Financial Bank
Kyra Clark SVP & Chief Human Resources Officer, Lake City Bank
Angie Dane SVP, Human Resources Director, Star Financial Bank
Jason Eckerle Regional President, Central & Southern Indiana, PNC Bank
David Findlay Chairman & CEO, Lake City Bank
Juan Gonzalez President, Central Indiana, KeyBank
Steve Harris Senior Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer, First Merchants Bank
Carrie Houston First Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer, The National Bank of Indianapolis
Lucia Mar Senior Vice President & Market Executive, Bank of America
Ann Merkel SVP & Chief Market Development Officer, The National Bank of Indianapolis
Lorraine Ortiz First Vice President, Chief People Officer, First Internet Bank
James Ryan III CEO, Old National Bank
Jake Sappenfield Commercial Market President, First Financial Bank
Robert Senz Senior Vice President, Talent Management, PNC Bank
Michael Stewart President, First Merchants Corporation and First Merchants Bank
Amber Van Til President & CEO, Indiana Bankers Association


Scott Davison Chairman, President & CEO, OneAmerica
Karin Sarratt Executive Vice President, OneAmerica
Kim Thomas Vice President, Diversity Equity & Inclusion & Community Affairs, OneAmerica

Health Care

Karly Cope Vice President of Talent Management, Community Health Network
Nancy Foster Market Chief Human Resources Officer, Ascension St. Vincent
Kreg Gruber CEO, Beacon Health System
Lisa Harris, MD CEO, Eskenazi Health
Christia Hicks Chief Human Resources Officer, Eskenazi Health
Erin LaCross, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, CENP Senior Vice President, Nursing Professional Development, Parkview Health
Melinda Lebofsky Senior Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer, Deaconess Health System
Michelle Mahaffey Chief Human Resources Officer, Community Health Network
Michael Schroyer, RN, MSN, FACHE President, Baptist Health Floyd
Dr. Adrienne D. Sims Senior Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer, Indiana University Health
Mary Jo Smith Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Franciscan Alliance
Ram Yeleti, MD Executive Vice President, Chief Physician Executive, Community Health Network

Life Sciences

Bridget Boyle Head of People & Culture, Roche Diagnostics
Kelly Copes-Anderson Vice President and Global Head of Diversity Equity and Inclusion, Eli Lilly and Company
Allyn Decker Vice President of Operations and Engagement, OrthoWorx Indiana
Trevor Foughty Vice President of Public Affairs, Heartland BioWorks
Matthew Linville Senior Director, Human Resources, Zimmer Biomet
Erin Serafino Talent Director, OrthoWorx Indiana
Maurice Taylor Executive Director, Talent Attraction, Recruitment Marketing and Workforce Equity Programs, Eli Lilly and Company

Advanced Manufacturing

Dannette Howard Global Education Director, Corporate Responsibility, Cummins, Inc.
Mark Murphy President, PRD, Inc.

State and Intermediary Partners

Tony Denhart Executive Vice President, Workforce and Talent, Indiana Economic Development Corporation
Michi McClaine Vice President of Talent Development, Regional Opportunity Initiatives
Matt Mindrum President & CEO, Indy Chamber
Richard Paulk Commissioner, Indiana Department of Workforce Development
David Rosenberg Secretary of Commerce, Indiana Economic Development Corporation
Vanessa Green Sinders President & CEO, Indiana Chamber of Commerce
Jay Styles Senior Vice President, Partnerships and Talent Connections, EmployIndy



High School Committee

Dan Funston, co-chair Superintendent, Concord Community Schools
Kent Kramer, co-chair President & CEO, Goodwill of Central & Southern Indiana

Districts or Charter School Networks

Andy Allen High School Principal, Batesville Community School Corporation
Adam Barton High School Principal, Eastern Hancock Community School Corporation
Tara Bishop Superintendent, Perry Central Community Schools
Dr. Jeff Butts Superintendent, MSD Wayne Township
Rebecca Daugherty-Saunders District Director of College and Career Readiness, MSD Wayne Township
Betsy Delgado Senior Vice President and Chief Mission and Education Officer, Goodwill of Central & Southern Indiana
Jody French Jr./Sr. High School Principal, Perry Central Community Schools
Dr. David Hoffert Superintendent, Warsaw Community Schools
Andrea Huff Superintendent, Barr-Reeve Community Schools
Dr. Aleesia Johnson Superintendent, Indianapolis Public Schools
Dr. Lisa Kendall Assistant Superintendent of Educational Programming, Concord Community Schools
Paul Ketcham Superintendent, Batesville Community School Corporation
Melissa Kissling College & Career Connections Manager, Warsaw Community Schools
Robert McDermott Assistant Superintendent, Duneland School Corporation
Chip Pettit Superintendent, Duneland School Corporation
Dr. George Philhower Superintendent, Eastern Hancock Community School Corporation
Tim Pletcher High School Principal, Baugo Community Schools
Byron Sanders Superintendent, Baugo Community Schools
Dr. Keanna Warren CEO, Purdue Polytechnic High Schools
B.J. Watts OptIN Executive Director, Evansville-Vanderburgh School Corporation

State and Intermediary Partners

Beth Bray Program Officer, Education Program, Walton Family Foundation
Jason Callahan Assistant Secretary of Student Pathways & Opportunities, Indiana Department of Education
Erika Seydel Cheney VP, K-12 Career-Connected Learning, EmployIndy
Todd Hurst Executive Director, Institute for Workforce Excellence, Indiana Chamber of Commerce
Sarah Koontz Director of CareerWise Youth Apprenticeships, CareerWise Elkhart County
Dr. Katie Lash VP for K-14 and Strategic Initiatives, Ivy Tech Community College


Higher Education Committee

Sue Ellspermann, co-chair President, Ivy Tech Community College
Kenith Britt, co-chair COO & Chancellor, Marian University

Higher Education Institutions

Melissa Beckwith Chief Strategy Officer, Butler University
Daniel Castro-Lacouture Dean, Purdue Polytechnic Institute
Molly Dodge Senior Vice President, Workforce and Careers, Ivy Tech Community College
Sean Huddleston President, Martin University
Dottie King President & CEO, Independent Colleges of Indiana
Andrew Kocher Vice President of Corporate and Community Partnerships, University of Indianapolis
Dr. Leah Nellis Vice Chancellor for Innovation and Special Projects; Strategic Lead for Academic Initiatives, IU Office of School Partnerships; Professor of Education, Indiana University
Dr. Lori Pence Associate Provost for K-12 Programs & Partnerships, Vincennes University

State and Intermediary Partners

Dr. Michelle Ashcraft Senior Associate Commissioner and Chief Program Officer, Indiana Commission for Higher Education
Jason Bearce Vice President, Education & Workforce Development, Indiana Chamber of Commerce
Betsy Revell Senior Vice President, Career-Connected Learning, EmployIndy
Brian Wiebe President & CEO, Horizon Education Alliance


Policy Committee

Representative Bob Behning, co-chair Chair, Education Committee, Indiana House of Representatives District 91
Senator Jeff Raatz, co-chair Chair, Education and Career Development Committee, Indiana Senate District 27
Elected Officials
Senator Andrea Hunley Senator, Indiana Senate District 46
Representative Julie McGuire Representative, Indiana House District 93
Representative Vernon Smith Representative, Indiana House District 14

State, Corporate and Intermediary Partners

Jason Bearce Vice President, Education & Workforce Development, Indiana Chamber of Commerce
Susan Brock-Williams Associate Vice President, State Government Affairs, Eli Lilly and Company
David Buyze Director of Policy and Special Programs, Indiana Department of Education
Miranda Cripe CareerWise Elkhart County Partnership Manager, Horizon Education Alliance
Whitney Ertel Executive Director, Governor’s Workforce Cabinet
Josh Garrison Senior Associate Commissioner and Chief of Staff, Indiana Commission for Higher Education
Taylor Hughes Vice President, Policy & Strategy, Indy Chamber
Danny Kelley Policy Director, Indiana House Republicans
Marie Mackintosh President & CEO, EmployIndy
Tina Peterson President & CEO, Regional Opportunity Initiatives
Betsy Wiley President & CEO, Institute for Quality Education