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$670K workforce grant bolsters skilled trades, insurance programs

October 24th, 2016

KPC News

Fort Wayne -

Northeast Indiana has been awarded a $670,148 Skill UP Indiana! grant to support training programs in the skilled trades and insurance industries, Northeast Indiana Works announced.

Northeast Indiana Works and the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership collaborated to develop the scope of the initiatives. Key industry partners in the initiatives are the Northeast Indiana Building & Construction Trades Council, a group of 18 trades organizations, and Northeast Indiana Specialty Insurers, a group of seven insurers, Northeast Indiana Works said in a press release.

Counting matching funds and in-kind contributions, the investment in the programs will total $994,148. One of the significant matching contributions to the skilled trades initiative is $100,000 from the JPMorgan Chase Foundation.

“These initiatives will help fill talent pipelines for two growing, relatively high-wage industry sectors,” Gary Gatman, executive vice president of strategic initiatives for Northeast Indiana Works, said in the press release. “This is a critical evolution of successful career pathway work that has already been completed in northeast Indiana.”

The skilled trades initiative will develop a preapprenticeship program that will serve as a springboard to paid apprenticeship programs. The program will include classes in technical skills (such as workplace safety, trade-related math and hands-on experience) and employability skills (such as teamwork, problem-solving and communication).

It is anticipated that the classes, which can lead to industry-recognized credentials, will serve 120 adults across the region, with a focus on ensuring a diverse group of participants, according to Northeast Indiana Works.

“Trades across the region are experiencing significant difficulty in finding quality workers, especially diverse talent,” Darryl Esterline, head of Sheet Metal Workers Local 20 and president of the region’s trades council, said in the news release. “A regional feeder system that prepares people for careers in the trades is precisely what northeast Indiana needs.”

The insurance sector initiative will offer classes in insurance-specific information technology leading to the opportunity to earn industry-recognized credentials. It is anticipated the classes will serve 24 people already employed in the insurance industry.

“On behalf of the Northeast Indiana Specialty Insurers, I can say that we are very excited to partner in this innovative and necessary training program,” Pat Sullivan, executive vice president of Hylant and chair of the Northeast Indiana Specialty Insurers, said in the news release. “Our ability to up-skill our employees will be critical to the success of the insurance sector in northeast Indiana.”

In addition to the trades council, insurers group and regional partnership, other partners will include Allen County’s Gateway Coalition, Ivy Tech Community College Northeast, local economic development organizations, WorkOne Northeast and community-based organizations throughout the region.

“The Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership is thrilled to continue our partnership with Northeast Indiana Works that has resulted in more than $2 million in Skill UP funds invested in our region over the past 18 months,” Ryan Twiss, director of regional initiatives for the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, said in the news release. “This opportunity to support key employment sectors in our region is truly a demonstration of the strength of collaboration.”

The latest Skill UP Indiana! grant was awarded by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. Northeast Indiana previously received a $1.35 million Skill UP Indiana! grant to support manufacturing program and equipment enhancements at the region’s five career and technical education districts and training programs for existing workers in the manufacturing sector.