The busiest business in town might just be the sign companies printing the “Help Wanted” or “Now Hiring” signs. It might be easier to tally the number of businesses that don’t have one of those signs than the number of businesses that do.
Generally, our economy is at full employment. Indiana’s unemployment rate currently stands at only 3.6%, Elkhart County at 2.6%, Marshall County at 2.9% and St. Joseph County 3.6%.
Employers say the ability to find good workers is holding back their plans for growth and making it difficult even to keep up with current orders. The State recognizes that if employers can’t find what they need locally, they’ll have to move jobs to other parts of the country and world with a better labor supply.
At the same time, there are many workers in our marketplace that are un-employed, under-employed, or in a career they don’t think is going anywhere? The State of Indiana has launched a new program in recent weeks aimed at moving adults in those positions into high-wage/high growth industries.
The State’s top brass, including Governor Holcomb; Blair Milo, the State’s Secretary of Career Connections and Talent; Steve Braun, Commissioner for Workforce Development; and Teresa Lubbers, Commissioner for Higher Education, have been traveling the State touting the advantages of this new $20 million, two-year Next Level Jobs program. They made a stop in Elkhart earlier this month.
The new program has two basic parts. First, it will pay the tuition of an adult who wants to earn a career certificate in one of five high growth-high wage industries. Second, it will help offset the costs employers assume when they train new employees.
The Next Level Jobs program comes on the heels of the Next Level Roads program also unveiled by the Governor earlier this summer. That plan dedicates more than $30 billion over the next twenty years to improving the conditions of existing roads and bridges—both state and local, finishing major projects, and building for the future. The Roads program aims to enhance Indiana’s position as a leader in freight and logistics.
If you have contemplated a career in health and life sciences, advanced manufacturing, business and IT services, the construction and building trades, or transportation-distribution-logistics, then the timing might be right for you? Those industries are the industries the State is targeting for the new program.
The career certificate programs will be available at Ivy Tech Community College and Vincennes University campuses throughout the state, including Ivy Tech’s South Bend and Elkhart campuses.
Do you have a business in one of those industries? Have you struggled to find the talent you need to grow and expand? Then the timing might be right for you as well as the program will assist your business in training those next generation workers.
Employers will be eligible for up to $2,500 per new employee to qualifying companies to train and retain new hires. The Department of Workforce Development will launch a pilot of the grant for 2018 and 2019, using $10 million in Career and Technical Education Innovation and Advancement Funds.
Response to the new program has been strong with more than 1,200 applicants in the first few days after its launch. To learn more about the program, potential employees and interested employers can visit www.NextLevelJobs.org. Applicants will receive individualized contact from the Department of Workforce Development an eligible training provider within 48 hours.
Employers across the region are excited about what this new opportunity means for their business and recognize programs like this may just fill that need and be key catalyst for growth.