Grants connect residents with training programs
By Doug LeDuc | Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly
Indiana’s first secretary of career connections and talent has started promoting training provided this year by Ivy Tech Community College – Northeast through a new grant program targeting workforce shortages in the state’s economic growth sectors.
The Workforce Ready Grant program was part of a state Next Level Jobs initiative Blair Milo helped kick off earlier this month as part of her new responsibilities related to helping connect Indiana’s residents to its training assistance programs. She started in the job early this month. The initiative also includes a new Employer Training Grant program.
Indiana adult learners without a bachelor’s or associate degree who are approved for a Workforce Ready Grant can enroll without charge in an Ivy Tech or Vincennes University career certificate program focused on an in-demand occupation within one of five high-growth sectors of the state’s economy.
Those sectors include advanced manufacturing; building and construction; health and life sciences; IT and business services; and transportation and logistics. Certification certificate programs for careers in all of those fields are available, said Chris Cathcart, vice chancellor for student affairs at Ivy Tech - Northeast.
“The grant will cover the remaining tuition and mandatory fee charges after other financial aid (excluding loans and GI Bill benefits) has been applied,” he said in an email.
“The grant is available for two years and covers up to the number of credits required by the qualifying program. The grant does not cover courses that do not directly apply to the student’s certificate program.”
To qualify for the grant, students must file a free application for federal student aid and have a secondary school graduation diploma or show they have passed a state-approved equivalency exam.
The students also must live in Indiana on Dec. 31 immediately before the year during which the grant will be awarded, as well as throughout the year in which it is awarded.
“Indiana’s unemployment rate has reached historic lows, and we currently have about 95,000 job openings around the state,” Gov. Eric Holcomb said in a statement on the initiative. “Now more than ever, our state needs to ramp up efforts to prepare Hoosiers for the jobs available today — and for the one million more we expect over the next decade. Next Level Jobs will drive our efforts to meet that demand and will put hardworking Hoosiers in high-need, high-wage careers.”
The grant program received bipartisan support from the state’s lawmakers when it was a key component of the governor’s Next Level legislative agenda and it will be funded through $4 million provided by the General Assembly, as well as $10 million from Commissioner for Higher Education funds.
Area employers will benefit from it because the career certificate programs “are designed to specifically address the workforce shortage by providing opportunities for individuals who are looking to advance their skills and seek employment in the above referenced high demand areas,” Cathcart said.
Online application for the grant and more information about it is at www.nextleveljobs.org/2017 and “the college has developed a comprehensive marketing campaign that is partnered with the promotion already taking place by the governor’s office and CHE,” he said.
The Indiana Department of Workforce Development will use $10 million of its Career and Technical Education Innovation and Advancement funds to cover the costs of the pilot Employer Training Grant program for 2018 and 2019.
The program will provide qualified employers in high-demand industries up to $2,500 per new employee, not to exceed $25,000 per company, to train the new hires, which it must employ for at least six months.
The high-demand industries include advanced manufacturing, agriculture, building and construction, health and life sciences, IT and business services, and transportation and logistics.
Participating employers may choose to provide in-house training or recommend an external training provider, which then must be approved by DWD, spokesman David Shatkowski said in an email.
Because the training it supports is for new hires, the grant program can be used as an economic development tool to help attract jobs to Indiana.
“Generally speaking, these grants are designed to help an employer improve its employee talent base by bringing in better skilled and prepared individuals,” Shatkowski said.
The DWD or a training provider will contact applicants for either of the programs within 48 hours of online application, according to the statement on it from the governor’s office.