Engleman: Maintaining momentum for Indiana’s workforce

Posted by: Abigail Campbell and Kayla King  | Friday, March 2, 2018

More and more businesses are relocating to Indiana each day. Last year, we were second in the nation for software-related job growth. As a result, tech firms and entrepreneurs are looking to make Indiana home. CNBC recently ranked Indiana as the best state in the Midwest for the cost of doing business, so it is no surprise companies are considering expanding or relocating to our state. Sustaining this influx of new businesses means Hoosiers need to be ready to fill these job openings with an investment in qualified and skilled workers.

As a state, Indiana annually invests $1 billion in 30 different workforce development programs across nine separate state agencies. This investment reflects our ongoing commitment to higher education and career and technical training. Currently, some programs overlap while others are likely outdated. We are working to streamline our efforts to make the entire statewide system more efficient and beneficial to Hoosier jobseekers and employers.

House Republicans have proposed legislation that would help prioritize the state’s workforce development systems and ensure that funds are being used in the most efficient and responsible way possible. Under our current proposal, the Next Level Workforce and Development Fund would be created to ensure there is a dedicated, single source of money to annually invest in employer-based training programs. This would fund grants for eligible employers helping current and prospective employees obtain a work-related degree, certification or credential. By empowering workers to secure high-level, high-wage jobs, employers will be able to select employees with the skills they desire. Additionally, the Indiana Department of Workforce Development would be responsible for having two employees at each WorkOne center across the state to connect Hoosier employers and jobseekers with state resources and informing local high school officials and students on available grants and programs.

While we are working on legislation to streamline our workforce efforts, there are several other resources currently available to Hoosiers. Next Level Jobs is an initiative connecting Indiana employers with qualified workers and providing jobseekers with free, local job training so they can advance in their career and obtain better-paying jobs. Workforce Ready grants are now available to cover remaining tuition costs, while students work to earn high-value certificates from either Ivy Tech Community College or Vincennes University. You can learn more about this initiative by visiting www.NextLevelJobs.org.

Another component to our workforce development efforts is pairing Hoosier veterans with employers throughout the state. The Next Level Veterans initiative launched this year to help connect veterans with the 85,000 open jobs throughout Indiana. With more than half of the 200,000 service men and women who leave the U.S. military each year facing a period of unemployment, we have a crucial need to bridge the gap between our highly-skilled veterans and businesses looking to hire. This new program unites public and private organizations in order to employ more military personnel leaving service and retain veterans already in the state. With the knowledge and skills already developed during their time in the military, Next Level Veterans focuses on connecting veterans with high-wage career opportunities. You can find out more information about this program by visiting www.in.gov/veterans.

If you have any questions about available programs or legislation that we are considering this session, please contact me at 317-232-9769 or h70@iga.in.gov.

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State Rep. Karen Engleman (R-Georgetown) represents House District 70,

which includes portions of Clark, Floyd and Harrison counties.

A high-resolution photo of Engleman can be downloaded by clicking here.