INDIANAPOLIS (August 27, 2015) – With an estimated one million jobs to fill by 2025, the Hoosier workforce must continue to develop and enhance the necessary knowledge, skills and abilities to excel in the jobs of the future. In an effort to meet this challenge, the Indiana Department of Workforce Development (DWD) is launching a new grant program to leverage partnerships and encourage regional collaboration for implementation of initiatives leading to increased skill attainment and career exposure opportunities for Indiana youth and adult students.
Skill UP Indiana, with up to $11 million in total funding, is designed to support implementation of regional partnerships in developing career pathway systems, creating work and learn experiences, and integrating employability and technical skills development using a more sector-focused strategy aligned with the regional business environment.
“We continue to hear from employers with available high-wage, high-demand positions that aren’t able to find candidates with the right skills and training,” said Steven J. Braun, commissioner of DWD. “The goal of Skill UP Indiana is to cultivate regional partnerships that encourage implementation of those initiatives aligned with growing sectors and regional business needs.”
Eligible applicants include industry-led partnerships involving all sizes of business, K-12 and post-secondary education entities, CTE centers, adult education programs, workforce training providers, economic development partners and local government units. A private match of 25% is required, which may include in-kind contributions or services of up to 10% of total project cost. These broad partnerships and cross-sector collaborations are intended to focus on innovative implementation strategies and local outcomes.
“These regional collaborations will work to identify skill sets and sector pathways in demand locally that will prepare individuals for existing positions and jobs of the future,” said Braun. “We need to encourage earlier conversations, additional explorations, and provide career path tools that enable student and parents the opportunity to make informed decisions regarding high school classes and post-secondary options.”
Providing access to the right training, at the right time, and taught in the right way is critical to meeting the state’s future jobs demand, Braun added, noting that research continues to show 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.
The Skill UP Indiana program is designed to build on the Indiana Career Council’s call for improved alignment of education and business needs. Created by the 2013 General Assembly, Career Council members include public and private sector leaders in areas of K-12 and higher education, business, economic development and workforce development. Chaired by Governor Mike Pence, the Career Council’s strategic plan strives to align, engage and advance Indiana’s efforts in education and workforce training.
“We want Hoosier students and adults to receive wider exposure to the broad range of career opportunities and perhaps not just those they’re exposed to via family and friends,” said Braun. “This program enhances educational options for all and will promote educational pathways that result in an immediate job as well as career growth opportunities.”
Deadlines for applications for the new round of funding are December 31, with initial letters of interest due in late September. Additional information may be found at www.in.gov/dwd/skillup.htm. Technical assistance and an upcoming webinar will be available for those interested in applying for the grant program.