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 Jan. 18, 2024.

Governing Committee

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

Industry Committee

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

Carrie Houston

First Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer, The National Bank of Indianapolis

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

Karin Sarratt

Executive Vice President, OneAmerica

Kim Thomas

Vice President, Diversity Equity & Inclusion & Community Affairs, OneAmerica

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

Allyn Decker

Vice President of Operations and Engagement, OrthoWorx Indiana

Trevor Foughty

Vice President of Public Affairs, Heartland BioWorks

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

Advanced Manufacturing

Dannette Howard

Global Education Director, Corporate Responsibility, Cummins, Inc.

Mark Murphy

President, PRD, Inc.

State and Intermediary Partners

Tony Denhart

Executive Vice President, Workforce and Talent, Indiana Economic Development Corporation

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

High School Committee

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

Higher Education Committee

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, Career-Connected Learning, EmployIndy

Brian Wiebe

President & CEO, Horizon Education Alliance

Policy Committee

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

About Ascend Indiana

An initiative of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership (CICP), Ascend Indiana is committed to making Indiana a place of economic opportunity for all. Ascend connects job seekers to good and promising career opportunities through an innovative job matching platform, the Ascend Network; catalyzes partnerships and provides consulting services to meet high-demand workforce needs through Ascend Services; and conducts research through Ascend Insights to enable systems-level change that positively impacts individuals throughout the state. To learn more, visit