Governor aims for more apprenticeships with new state office

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Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb announced on Thursday the creation of an office within the state Department of Workforce Development that is expected to help achieve one the goals he outlined in his State of the State address earlier this year.

The Office of Apprenticeship and Work-Based Learning will work with the U.S. Department of Labor to expand apprenticeship opportunities throughout the state, especially in emerging industries, according to the executive order Holcomb signed Thursday.

The office will also partner with businesses and educational institutions to develop and implement workforce development solutions. An online portal is expected to be used to connect students and employers to apprenticeships and work-based learning opportunities.

The initial short-term goal of the new office will be to double the number of Indiana residents in apprenticeships from 12,500 to 25,000 by the end of 2019.

Holcomb outlined his plan to increase apprenticeships among several other workforce development goals during his State of the State address in January.

Holcomb and DWD Commissioner Fred Payne plan to select a director for the new office, which otherwise will utilize existing DWD staff.

Other responsibilities of the new office include developing pre-apprenticeship models for youth and “earn-and-learn” programs for adults, and evaluating whether a not-for-profit should be established to help achieve some of the goals, possibly through a public-private partnership.

Quarterly progress reports are expected to be submitted to Holcomb.

Fixing the state’s convoluted workforce development system has been a priority for Holcomb and state lawmakers, but Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma said last month that major changes won’t occur until next year.

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