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Indiana governor signs 2 workforce development measures into laws

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Gov. Eric Holcomb on Wednesday signed two workforce development bills into law.

One of the laws creates a 21-member workforce development cabinet.

The other helps usher in a host of new training programs aimed at helping out-of-work Hoosiers sharpen their skills.

Brian Wilson said he remembers facing some of toughest months of his life after he lost his job in 2016. It was a struggle just to make ends meet.

Wilson said, “There was some apprehension. No. 1, based on age. I don’t feel like I’m 56 and I don’t see it until I look in the mirror.”

He said he clawed his way through, scraping by on hope and prayer while caring for his then 9-year-old son.

“Just having to be honest and explain that we can’t always go to McDonald’s,” Wilson said. “And when I’d go shopping, I’d go shopping for the purpose of us having food so we’re not eating through a window. I just didn’t have the money.”

Fast forward to Wednesday and the creation of laws meant to help people who find themselves in that position.

Fred Payne, commissioner of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, said that the laws create “better alignment of our funding and training dollars to get money directly into the hands of employers.”

Employ Indy said, for example, someone who’s unemployed or looking for a new job could get computer-coding training, then be eligible to apply for a higher-skilled job.

Holcomb said, “It’s all about people. We’re focused on how do we scale up people from early in life and when they get that ticket to success in their hand when they graduate from high school, and then if they go on for two years or four years into training or directly into a career.”

High-demand careers that have worker shortages are something the bills also address. Cummins, a corporation that designs, manufactures and distributes engines, filtration and power generation products, has some of those open careers.

Cathy Van Way, Cummins head of government relations, said, “We are seeing a shortage of technical workers, particularly diesel technicians. And, we’re also seeing a workforce that’s beginning to age, so as baby boomers retire, we’re not seeing that same pipeline of workers come back in to fill those jobs.”

Now, Wilson teaches training at Employ Indy. The same place that helped him is where he helps others.

“Be patient,” Wilson said. “Give yourself a break.”

About Wednesday’s bill signing, Indiana Speaker of the House Brian Bosma said, “We made significant progress on many issues this session, including matching our state’s top business climate with incentives and opportunities for Hoosiers to enhance their work skills. Our team continues to focus on connecting more Hoosiers to high-wage, high-demand jobs, which are coming to our state in droves. With the signing of these legislative priorities, our state is moving from planning to implementation to keep Indiana’s economic engine running strong.”