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Friday, September 17, 2021

High-tech companies bring more than technical jobs to town

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The Indianapolis job market is heating up, and it’s not only high-tech jobs employers are looking to fill. Recent announcements bring exciting news about thousands of new jobs in the Indy metro area in coming months.   

In early May, BorgWarner announced it will bring 300 jobs to a new Noblesville location for its automotive supply operations. Kohl’s, Amazon and Walmart are all hiring at area e-commerce fulfillment centers. By August, the first of nearly 2,000 new jobs will arrive when Infosys, an India-based IT-service provider, opens its planned Indianapolis innovation hub. Add in growing downtown employer Salesforce, and the opportunities are compelling.

Some of the new jobs certainly require technical expertise and industry knowledge; that’s great for employees with the right skills, like engineers and software developers. But what about people who don’t have such technical skills? 

The good news is that all workers have the potential to benefit, because high-tech jobs pay well, and that bolsters the overall economy of our city. There is a multiplier effect. New tech jobs, in turn, create a demand for support roles, ancillary jobs and local services.  

A 2012 study by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute in San Francisco found that every new technical job added 4.3 new positions to the local economy. The study found this impact to be more than three times the impact of a new manufacturing job. A similar 2015 study by the Washington Technology Industry Association found that each computer tech job added 1.7 positions to the same company and nearly three jobs to the greater community. 

That means workers who don’t have specialized technical skills can still find advantages in the rising job market. Companies need support for technical functions with positions in accounting, finance, human resources, marketing and administration. Likewise, employers that provide support to tech companies will likely be hiring for similar positions. 

Fortunately for local workers, state universities support educational options that help people add these skills to their resumes.

Ivy Tech and IUPUI offer in-class and online courses in basic business disciplines. Recently, Purdue announced its acquisition of Kaplan University, which offers online courses, as well. Kaplan and Ivy Tech both offer associate degrees for individuals willing to commit to a long-term course of study. 

At IUPUI, the Kelley School of Business offers an online Business Foundations Certificate that helps students develop basic proficiency in accounting, finance, marketing, operations, human resources and management. The courses are designed to introduce students to the basic concepts in each discipline while gaining a top-line view of business management. Average completion of the program is about 18 months.        

A modest addition to skills can have a big impact when looking to attract attention from an employer. It’s not feasible to earn a degree in a few months, but completion of even one course can demonstrate initiative while adding valuable new job skills. 

A basic accounting course will teach workers the terminology and concepts needed to converse in the workplace about an employer’s financial transactions. Students learn to read and understand the most common accounting documents — the income statement and balance sheet. On first glance, these documents can be intimidating, but after just one course, workers can demonstrate a basic level of understanding sufficient to contribute to the business. 

Students in a human resources class will learn about proper hiring practices and ways to engage workers that promote retention for the employer. Such courses also cover dealing with performance issues in the workplace. These important skills can help a worker make that important step from line contributor to team leader or supervisor.   

New skills bring a broader view of the employer’s business along with renewed confidence for the individual. It’s not too late to take advantage of the robust high-tech wave in Indianapolis. Smart workers will take the initiative now to complement their experiences with some added skills.   

 

Judith Wright, JD, MBA, is a clinical assistant professor of business law at Indiana University Kelley School of Business at IUPUI.

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