State could require training for unemployed workers under bill

Unemployed Hoosiers could be pushed into job training and educational programs meant to help them get back into the workforce under a bill that passed the Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously on Thursday.

Currently, unemployed Hoosiers must meet with the Office of Workforce Development after four weeks of collecting unemployment. Under HB 1497, the agency could require the individual to participate in skills-assessment testing and further job training or education.

Joseph Frank, communications director for the Workforce Development, said the office needs to know what services people need in order to get them back to work.

“What this bill does is gives us a vehicle to expand that a little bit into making sure we assess the skills folks have so that we can pair them with employers as quickly as possible,” Frank said.

Frank said unemployed Hoosiers might just be a small amount of education away from a career.

“We’re finding that just some sort of post-secondary education is the difference between having a good paying career and struggling to find a job and struggling to make a lower wage then you would with education,” Frank said.

The bill’s author, Greg Beumer, R-Modoc, said the proposed legislation will complement the work the DWD already is doing.

“We can do better,” he said.

According to Frank, close to 500,000 Hoosiers don’t have a high school diploma or an equivalency. Job training will change their odds of becoming a strong member of the workforce.

“We’ve actually talked to several specific people that have testified in committee that this was the difference between them having a really hard time getting back into the workforce and having the tools that they need to get a job as quickly as possible,” Frank said. “We see it as a game changer.”

Frank said he is grateful for the state-funded appropriation in the proposed budget that would give $2 million in funding to the programs.

“The fact that there’s possible appropriation with that to expand the program, we’re just so grateful for it because our training education services are free and we get federal money for a lot of those,” he said. “But having the state piece where we can expand it out a little bit further, really puts all the tools in place so we can go from serving a good number of people to serving well as many people as possible.”

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