BRIAN SLODYSKO, Associated Press
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb unveiled a program on Monday that will pay training and education costs for employers and workers in high demand fields.
The Republican says the education entitlement should help train workers – from welders and machinists, to nursing assistants and IT techs – for skilled and advanced technology jobs, which require more than a high school diploma.
“Indiana is going to cover the cost of our Hoosiers getting the certificates they need to move up that economic ladder,” Holcomb said during a news conference at the Allison Transmission factory in Indianapolis.
The “Next Level Jobs” initiative, as it is called, sets aside about $24 million over the next two years.
Roughly $14 million will go toward covering the cost of tuition for certificate programs that takes less than two years to complete at Ivy Tech Community College and Vincennes University, according to state officials.
The other $10 million will be used to reimburse employers that provide specialized on-the-job training for new hires. Each employer could collect up to $2,500 per worker.
The program is targeted to specific industries including advanced manufacturing, construction health sciences, IT services and transportation.
It's not clear how many people will be able to take advantage of the program at its current funding level.
Teresa Lubbers, who oversees Indiana's Commission for Higher Education, says a certificate program can cost anywhere between $300 and $3,000, depending on the number of credits required.
If the effort were to run out of money, Lubbers says that would be a “best news scenario” because it would demonstrate the popularity of the program and set the stage for Holcomb to request more money from the Legislature.
Still, the program more-or-less amounts to the kind of big government entitlements that many Republicans have historically excoriated.
Holcomb avoided responding directly to questions to that effect.
In a related story, the Associated Press discusses how high-tech U.S. plants are offering jobs, even as workers are being laid-off due to lack of skills.
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