Indiana leaders form coalition to build, grow youth apprenticeship

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

INDIANAPOLIS, Jan. 23, 2024 – 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 Feb. 16, 2024.

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  
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 
Annie Hills Chief of Staff, Old National Bank 
Carrie Houston First Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer, The National Bank of Indianapolis 
Jon Loftin President & COO, MJ Insurance 
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 
Amanda Pennington VP of Sales Enablement, UnitedHealth Group 
Karin Sarratt Executive Vice President, OneAmerica 
Kim Thomas Vice President, Diversity Equity & Inclusion & Community Affairs, OneAmerica 
Kevin Wheeler Indiana Insurance Industry Training Consortium Representative 
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 
Travis Christman VP of Quality & Regulatory, Medartis 
Allyn Decker Vice President of Operations and Engagement, OrthoWorx Indiana 
Trevor Foughty Vice President of Public Affairs, Heartland BioWorks 
Erin Hughes Sr. Human Resources Manager, Medartis 
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 
Bob Vitoux President & CEO, OrthoWorx Indiana 
Vince Wong President & CEO, BioCrossroads 
Advanced Manufacturing 
Representative Subaru Indiana 
Katrin Gerig Vice President of Human Resources, Telamon 
Dannette Howard  Global Education Director, Corporate Responsibility, Cummins, Inc.    
Mark Murphy President, PRD, Inc. 
Maribeth Nelson Human Resources Manager, Precision Medical Technologies 
Nicole Otte Director of Workforce Development, Endress+Hauser USA 
Josh Wilber Director of Human Resources, Grote Industries 
State and Intermediary Partners 
Tony Denhart Executive Vice President, Workforce and Talent, Indiana Economic Development Corporation 
Carrie Lively Executive Director, The Pursuit Institute 
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 
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  
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, CareerConnected Learning, EmployIndy 
Brian Wiebe President & CEO, Horizon Education Alliance 
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 

Additional Posts

Low-Income Students Face Several Challenges Outside the Classroom. Does This Mean They Can’t Learn?

Alex Cohen is the Director of Learning and Evaluation for the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation. The most recent round of ISTEP+ results, released last month, continue to show students in Marion County public schools performing well below state averages. At Indianapolis Public Schools, for example, fewer than 25% of elementary and middle school students passed […]

The High Price of Indiana’s Opioid and Tobacco Addiction

Indiana stands at the height of a twin addiction epidemic fueled by the rise of opioids and stubbornly persistent tobacco use in our state. Today more Hoosiers die from drug overdoses than auto accidents each year. The death toll from smoking equates to more than two fatal 747 airplane crashes each month. And we’re outpacing […]