Holcomb program to pay companies to train new employees

Indiana employers in high-demand industries could soon receive money from the state to train new employees.

Gov. Eric Holcomb on Monday announced a “employer training grant” program that could provide up to $2,500 per employee to companies that hire, train and retain employees for at least six months.

It will be run by the state’s Department of Workforce Development as a pilot program for 2018 and 2019. It will be supported with $10 million in career and technical education funds.

The program is targeting fields including advanced manufacturing, agriculture, building and construction, health and life sciences, IT and business services, and transportation and logistics.

State policymakers and leaders in industry have been discussing for years how to boost training for Hoosier workers so they can fill a glut of high-skill positions.

“Helping Indiana companies offset the costs of training for new employees they retain in high-demand fields will help meet immediate workforce needs in our state,” DWD Commissioner Steve Braun said in a press release.

A new website set up for the initiative, www.nextleveljobs.org, states that there will be application limits of $25,000 per employer, and that “eligible training must be job skills training that ties to an in-demand occupation."

The governor also kicked off a marketing campaign designed to tell would-be workers about the ability to apply for workforce ready grants—tuition funding to pay for certificates that would train people in high-wage areas—which were approved earlier this year by the Indiana General Assembly.

Holcomb said it was unclear just how many certificates could be awarded but said "my goal as we set sail on this endeavor is we run through all the resources we’ve been allocated and that we come back for more.” Holcomb hoped to attract people from both in and out of state.

The workforce ready grants will be supported by using $4 million in funding allocated by the Legislature and more than $10 million in financial aid funds accessed through the Commission for Higher Education.

Public service announcements, as well as paid radio and digital ads, are being run to promote the offfering. Higher Education Commissioner Teresa Lubbers said her agency had about $500,000 to spend on such efforts.

The basic message, Lubbers said, is that “if you put in the work, we’ll pay for the training.”

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