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State training initiative helps local workers

by ANDREW CHRISTMAN - achristman@wabashplaindealer.com

Wabash County employers are taking advantage of changes to the state’s Next Level Jobs initiative.

The initiative is now doubling the amount of money that will be available per employee for additional training, according to Gov. Eric Holcomb’s office.

Established in August of 2017, the initiative aims to further educate and train employees in high-demand fields. The fields being supported by the initiative include advanced manufacturing, building and construction, IT and business services, health and life sciences and transportation and logistics. Employers may now receive $5,000 per employee for additional education and training, capped at $50,000.

An estimated $5.2 million has already been spent through the program.

Keith Gillenwater, president and CEO of the Wabash County Business Alliance, said the initiative is a good program due to its nature of being aimed at incumbent workers.

“It was specifically aimed at middle-skill, high-demand jobs and they have several priorities they are aiming at,” he said. “One of the requirements they have is once an employee gets the training, they have to have some kind of wage increase from the time they started.

“We’ve had pretty good responses from employers and they see it’s a pretty easy process to apply for.”

The Wabash Business Alliance has spoken with about a dozen employers in the last few weeks about getting involved.

Fifty-eight local individuals have applied for workforce ready grants and have been connected to resources at Ivy Tech or Work One Centers. Among the employers taking part in offering additional training is Wellbrooke of Wabash, according to Holcomb’s office.

Gillenwater added the initiative is only one aspect of Wabash County taking the steps to strengthen its workforce, as the county also has a $250,000 workforce grant from the Office of Community and Rural Affairs for classes and a general skill enhancement fund.