Researched & written by: Ashley Acuff, Ashlie Dew & Danielle Dove

How do you train our current workforce for today’s ever-changing needs while still planning for tomorrow and beyond? We look to compare and contrast our Circle City’s workforce development, specifically youth initiatives, to that of the Mile High City’s efforts.


Indianapolis needs an additional 215,000 individuals with job-ready credentials to close the job skills gap. To address this gap, Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) has created Future Centers at each of its four high schools to aid in each student being enlisted, employed or enrolled after graduation. IPS has also moved to a model in which each of its high schools have a focused area of study. This program aligns with the Denver equivalent, Denver Public Schools CareerConnect, that we will learn more about during our panel discussions in Denver.


Driving the workforce development growth in Marion County, EmployIndy is creating strategies to reduce barriers for residents to have access to career paths and obtain skillsets to excel in our Indy workforce. Project Indy, Mayor Joe Hogsett’s youth initiative and managed by EmployIndy, provides soft-skill development, job opportunities, and job-readiness training to in-school and opportunity youth ages 16 - 24. The effort is designed to connect employers to young adults for summer jobs, part-time, and full-time opportunities and also offers mentorship and career training opportunities.


Job Ready Indy is a program designed to bring employability skills into the market for young adults age 16-24. This program was created by Mayor Joe Hogsett, EmployIndy, the Indy Chamber along with many other employer and community partners. This initiative provides programing for enrolled youth followed by badging to mark completion. These completed badges update in participants’ Project Indy profiles for the business community to see when selecting candidates. This gives employers confidence that these youth are prepared with the basic skills employers are seeking.


The programs locally, specifically with IPS, Project Indy and Job Ready Indy, are all aimed at building the talent pipeline of tomorrow’s workers. We look forward to hearing from DPS CareerConnect, Denver Opportunity Youth Initiative and Careerwise Colorado to learn more about the innovation and funding they are using to develop the pipeline of talent in Denver.

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