DWD Awards $400,000 to Support Innovative Work-and-Learn Programs

INDIANAPOLIS (August 11, 2016) – The Indiana Department of Workforce Development (DWD) recently awarded nearly $400,000 in Innovative Work-and-Learn Grant funds to the Indiana Regional Works Councils (IRWC). The program was created to foster innovative work-and-learn models that connect youth and young adults to high-wage, high-demand employment opportunities in the state.

“Work-and-learn programs that align education and training programs to employer demand are essential to filling the over one million Indiana jobs projected to become available over the next decade,” said DWD Commissioner Steven J. Braun. “This grant program is designed to cultivate frameworks for measurable and sustainable high-quality work-and-learn experiences in communities throughout Indiana.”

There are 1.2 million young adults age 16-29 who live in Indiana, which accounts for roughly 1/3 of the working population. Since the great recession, unemployment amongst this age group has been higher than the average working population.

Highlights of IRWC programs receiving grants include:

  • High School juniors and seniors, and adult learners in north-central Indiana will get connected to meaningful work-and-learn opportunities through the Polytech model. The pilot program will then be replicated at a minimum of three additional sites for Polytech expansion across the region.
  • Blackford and Jay County High School seniors and Ivy Tech students who have successfully completed 15 hours of college coursework in advanced manufacturing/industrial maintenance will be eligible for spring semester internships at local employers. The internships will include “soft” skill training and an industry-created framework will serve as a guide for companies participating in the program.
  • Identifying and coordinating existing work-and-learn opportunities in southeast Indiana and choosing the five most well-established programs to compile a framework for scalable work-and-learn programs in communities throughout the region.

“Research confirms that work-and-learn opportunities result in greater exposure to career options, more engaged employees, higher job satisfaction and a beneficial experience for both student and employer,” added Commissioner Braun. “DWD develops local grant programs like Work-and-Learn, Skill UP Indiana!, and VEX Robotics, among others, to encourage career exploration and help inform students’ decisions regarding career training and post-secondary options.”

The Innovative Work-and-Learn Grant is a collaboration between the National Governors Association Policy Academy and DWD, which administers the grant. To be eligible, applicants had to propose work-and-learn opportunities that connect young adults with employers offering STEM and middle-skills career opportunities and obtain a minimum private sector match of 25 percent of the requested grant funding.

More information regarding Innovative Work-and-Learn Grants, including summaries of regional programs, is available at http://in.gov/irwc/2726.htm

About Brian Scott

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