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Next Level Jobs initiative expected to affect Huntington

by ANDREW CHRISTMAN - achristman@h-ponline.com

More than $5 million has been obligated to furthering job training for Indiana employers and employees.

According to information released from Stephanie Wilson of Gov. Eric Holcomb’s office, the funding has helped train almost 2,300 employees across the state in high demand fields, including advanced manufacturing, building and construction, IT and business services, health and life sciences and transportation and logistics.

Mark Wickersham, executive director of Huntington County Economic Development, said he has forwarded the information regarding the Next Level Jobs initiative to his client list.

“I anticipate it’s going to be popular, and I want to thank the state and governor for getting this pushed through,” Wickersham said.

Wickersham noted that due to the focus on advanced manufacturing and precision with the initiative, Huntington County will benefit directly.

“We have a number of positions and interests in these fields here,” he said. “I think this will have a significant impact, as our industrial fields are constantly improving the skill of their workforce. It’s the only way they will stay at the forefront.”

Wickersham added every sector listed as a part of the initiative is an interest for the Huntington area.

The information from Wilson states Indiana will be doubling the amount made available to both employees and employers who take part. Funding is made available through the Workforce Ready and Employer Training grants. The funding will provide $5,000 per employee, with $50,000 being made available to employers for training purposes. Funds will be reimbursed to employers who train, hire and retain new employees for six months.

Wilson said Huntington has been directly affected by the changes as well, citing 82 people have applied for the Workforce Ready grant and have been connected to resources through Ivy Tech or Work One centers. Wilson also stated Huntington Aluminum Incorporated has taken advantage of an employer training grant.

A recent change will also allow current employees, not just new hires, to take part in the initiative.

The Workforce Ready grant for employees will cover remaining tuition and mandatory fees following other financial aid to Ivy Tech and Vincennes University schools.

As it currently stands, Wilson wrote the Next Level Jobs initiative has provided funds for an estimated 247 employers throughout the state.