Indiana is tapping into a pot of federal grant money to boost its efforts to retrain out-of-work Hoosiers. But Gov. Mike Pence says the $2.4 million from the U.S. Department of Labor is only part of the solution. From Indiana Public Broadcasting’s Brandon Smith:
Out of the 30 states receiving the U.S. Department of Labor grant, Indiana is receiving the second-highest per capita percentage of those dollars. Governor Mike Pence says that’s in part because there are more than a million Hoosiers who lack the skills necessary to find one of the thousands of unfilled jobs in the state.
But he says focusing on free or low-cost education for out-of-work adults is only part of the solution in curbing the state’s unemployment rate, which remains above 8 percent.
“We also want to make sure that our high schools, our post-secondary institutions are creating more effective pathways so that our young people are entering the workforce with the background and the training that they need,” Pence says.
Pence says over the last decade, high quality career and vocational education programs have sprung up throughout the state, but most of those initiatives have been solely regional efforts.
Pence signed a bill earlier this year creating regional Indiana Works Councils to help identify needs in the area’s workforce. The goal is to forge partnerships between schools and the local business community.
Improving career and technical education has been a priority for Pence, who campaigned primarily on jobs and the economy. He has said Indiana needs to bring back vocational education.
Pence’s appointments to the State Board of Education last month reflect those priorities. Departing member Neil Pickett is headed to the Indiana Career Council, and Jim Edwards will sit on the Indiana Works Council.
“We don’t have a generation that can handle the kinds of jobs being created,” says Pickett.