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Skill UP Grant a win for Northeast Indiana

Northeast Indiana is celebrating another achievement. Gov. Mike Pence’s announcement that Northeast Indiana will be receiving $1.35 million in Skill UP funding to support new and expanded educational programs in manufacturing and the skilled trades is a great win for the region.

Reaching the Big Goal

For years, education and training providers in Northeast Indiana have rallied around the region’s Big Goal Collaborative, which aims to increase the percentage of residents with a degree or credential to 60 percent. This announcement is a powerful example of how regional collaboration and alignment under common outcomes can have a major impact in our community. By helping create and align education and training programs, the Skill UP grant will go a long way toward accelerating Northeast Indiana’s pursuit of its Big Goal. This grant will allow us as a region to further develop and promote seamless career pathways for both secondary students during the day and adult learners in the evenings.

There is a great regional demand currently for workers in manufacturing and the skilled trades, and that demand is expected to grow at least through the next decade. We are immensely grateful that the state has found merit in our plan to bolster the successful career pathway work that has already been accomplished in Northeast Indiana.

Building a skilled workforce

The money will allow the region’s five Career and Technical Education (CTE) districts to significantly upgrade programs for youth and adults in CNC (Computer Numerical Controlled) machining, welding and HVAC (Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning). These disciplines are vital to a region where manufacturing and the skilled trades combined are the largest employers and are projected to grow at least through the next decade. Moreover, the industry sectors, which are becoming more high-tech every day, offer higher wages than most other sectors. Also notable is the collaborative nature of the region’s Skill UP grant proposal, which was put together by the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership and Northeast Indiana Works. Among the partners in the initiative are the CTE districts; the region’s five employer-driven sector partnerships; Local Economic Development Organizations (LEDOs); Ivy Tech Northeast; and the WorkOne Northeast business services team. There is profound collective momentum in Northeast Indiana for enhancing workforce opportunities and other quality of life improvements and this grant from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development follows other recent grant successes for the region, including the $42-million Regional Cities grant award and $750,000 in Office of Rural and Community Affairs (OCRA) funding.

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