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Pence, Coats, German diplomat tout jobs alliance

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German Ambassador Peter Ammon and two top Indiana leaders spent Monday touting international skills training they say will help fill well-paying and vacant jobs in the state.

Indiana and German leaders are focusing on training Indiana residents to fill the skills gap between available work and unemployed Hoosiers. Ammon, U.S. Sen. Dan Coats and Gov. Mike Pence told university and business leaders gathered at Ivy Tech in Indianapolis about their joint efforts.

Germany's top diplomat in the U.S. told the crowd that improving supply chains internationally through synchronizing operations, including training, promotes economic growth in both countries. He said not every student is meant to obtain a PhD or other advanced degrees.

"I'm afraid that here, but also in Germany, there is a trend toward uber-academization," Ammon said. "It's simply true that not everybody can become a neurosurgeon, or a lawyer, or a financial wizard. Manufacturing requires different skills."

Pence has spent much of his first year in office focusing on ways to change how Indiana students and workers are trained. He said Monday he will announced new appointments to the Indiana Career Council, a panel charged with identifying what training is needed to fill vacant jobs.

While the state lagged in that area over the last few years, Indiana universities and local high schools were acting on their own to train students for advanced manufacturing jobs, Pence said. The governor said Indiana is now getting in the game with those schools as well institutions like Ivy Tech to help train students and re-train adults.

"We all know unemployment is too high in Indiana. And it's been too high for too long," he said. "What people don't realize is that we have a quarter million Hoosiers that are out of work, but there are literally tens of thousands of jobs in Indiana that are going unfilled today because employers can't find men and women with the background and the training to be able to fill those jobs."

The career council won bipartisan support during the 2013 legislative session and is expected to spend the rest of the year studying the issue before reporting back to lawmakers and Pence with potential solutions.

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