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Legislators Focus On Veterans As Jobs Bill Passes House

Legislation that would create the Indiana Career Council passed the Indiana House on Tuesday.

Carrasco, Bosma, Copes and Pelath

Photo: Brandon Smith/IPBS

(From left) National Guard Captain Catalina Carrasco, Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis), National Guard Bridgadier General Brian Copes and Minority Leader Scott Pelath (D-Michigan City) speak to the media on Feb. 12, 2013.

Legislation creating the Indiana Career Council unanimously passed the Indiana House on Tuesday.

Indiana House leaders say the council, which is meant to coordinate the state’s workforce development efforts, would bring all the parties involved in the state’s workforce development efforts to one table to help address the thousands of Hoosiers still out of work.

House Minority Leader Scott Pelath praised the bipartisan effort behind the push for the Indiana Career Council, asking members to be enthusiastic in their support. He says, as a human resources director, he has dealt firsthand with some of the issues the Career Council hopes to remedy.

“I recognize the challenge of having an open position with specific qualifications,” Pelath says. “You advertise it and you don’t get enough qualified applicants. And at the same time we have ten percent unemployment up in our county.”

House Speaker Brian Bosma, who co-authored the bill with Pelath, says the Career Council is not meant to be a silver bullet.

“Bringing the right people to the table to break down some of the silos in state government that we have, with the DWD having information that they’ve not shared with the Commission on Higher Education that hasn’t been shared with the Superintendent, which hasn’t been shared with FSSA? Definitely,” Bosma says.

The legislation passed the House unanimously and received an ovation from the members. It now heads to the Senate, where it will be sponsored by Senate President Pro Tem David Long and Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane.

As lawmakers work to create the council they are also placing a special emphasis on addressing unemployment among recent veterans.

The unemployment rate for Indiana’s post-9/11 veterans is 20 percent, more than double that of the average Hoosier. Indiana National Guard Employment Coordination Program manager Catalina Carrasco says part of the reason so many young veterans are unemployed is a disconnect between veterans and employers.

“Sometimes it’s just even putting all their work experience, especially their military experience down on paper, on a résumé in a way that civilian employers can understand that and they can see how those skills and experience is transferable to their needs,” Carrasco says.

Indiana National Guard Chief of Staff Brian Copes says the Indiana Career Council can help educate private sector employers and dispel their concerns.

“There is a bit of tribal lore and a reluctance because of the visibility that PTSD has gotten in the news,” Copes says. “It is a very, very small percentage but it gets a lot of media coverage and so employers have just a bit of reluctance, going ‘Am I going to hire that person?’”

Brandon Smith

Brandon Smith has previously worked as a reporter and anchor for KBIA Radio in Columbia, MO, and at WSPY Radio in Plano, IL as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.

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