State heading project to upskill essential workers


The Indiana Department of Workforce Development, in partnership with the Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association, is seeking input from essential workers and employers about worker skill sets and training opportunities.

As part of its ongoing efforts to support the skill advancement of Hoosiers, the department is launching a technical assistance opportunity led by the National Skills Coalition in Washington, D.C.

The yearlong project is focused on helping states think creatively about what types of administrative or other policy changes can help support the upskilling and equitable service to more essential workers, particularly those working in front-line jobs for small businesses.

Here’s a brief list of the areas to be reviewed, in collaboration with Hoosier businesses, to advance efforts in Indiana:

  • Definition of an essential worker. What does this mean to Indiana?
  • Technical assistance, leading to the development of a business-friendly Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Incumbent Worker Training Policy
  • Technical assistance, leading to the development of a business-friendly WIOA layoff aversion policy
  • Review of current workforce policies to ensure we haven’t unintentionally prohibited support for these targeted workers
  • How do we assess the overall impact of addressing the upskilling needs of essential workers early to prevent high rates of unemployment and supportive services later?

The state will facilitate two virtual focus groups lasting one hour each through Zoom, one with employers and another with employees. Focus group participants will receive a $50 gift card as a thank you. Answers will not be discussed with employers or employees, participant names will not be used in any reports and no one will ask for any sensitive information. Focus groups will be conducted at 7 p.m. March 9 and 10.

Participants must be at least 24 years old and able to use an internet-capable device to access a Zoom meeting. Sign up at

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