Local nonprofit attracts and retains talent to Michiana amid state-wide shortage in qualified workforce

NOW: Local nonprofit attracts and retains talent to Michiana amid state-wide shortage in qualified workforce

ELKHART, Ind.-- The Indiana Chamber of Commerce reports over 80 percent of employers are having a hard time finding qualified employees. Some are being forced to leave positions open or hire under-qualified candidates. But one local group in is working to bolster the workforce in Michiana.

EnFocus is a nonprofit in the south bend and Elkhart region that works to attract and retain talent to then work with the community and its businesses.

Wednesday evening, partners got to meet the newest fellows of enFocus and speakers provided insight into retaining qualified business leaders here at home.

"This has been one of the hottest labor markets of all time," said Andrew Wiand, executive director of enFocus. "And so, our mission to attract and retain talent really kind of fits in to that economic and organizational problems."

"The talent that we have usually ends up in leadership or technical positions with local organizations," Wiand continued.

EnFocus hosted its Wednesday event to introduce the community to its newest fellows.

"In Elkhart County, and really the region as a whole, there's so many opportunities that are available in the workforce," said enFocus Board Chair, Levon Johnson.

Johnson is also the president and CEO of the Greater Elkhart Chamber. He knows the pain many employers are feeling trying to get qualified candidates.

"As businesses continue to expand and businesses continue to diversify in Elkhart County, there is a need [for workers]," he said.

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce reports better training is becoming a top priority for employers in the Hoosier state, many of whom have a hard time not just finding workers, but qualified candidates.

"I'm getting a lot of experience in non-profit management, in grant writing, in data analytics, in data processing, and data-driven decision making," said enFocus Innovation Fellow, Caitlin Sears. "So, learning a lot of skills that can be used in a number of different sectors."

Sears is using her time with enFocus to put down stronger roots in Michiana.

She said hopes to take her background in speech language pathology and grow a local startup.

"That was a really big draw, to take some ideas that I had in speech therapy, and turn them into something bigger," she said. "So, I've been working on a startup for that, and I wouldn't have had the knowledge or the skills to even explore without enFocus."

According to enFocus, 70 percent of its fellows thus far have stayed in the South Bend-Elkhart region.

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