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Indiana rolls out grant programs to fill high-demand jobs

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The state is setting aside $20 million to help Hoosiers find work in high-demand jobs.

Gov. Eric Holcomb is going around the state this week to talk about the Next Level Jobs grant program.

You may not think many Hoosier companies are looking for workers since the state’s unemployment is at 3 percent, the lowest in nearly 20 years. But think again.

“We currently have between 80 and 100 manufacturing jobs available,” said Cory Lookebill, the Great Dane Trailers plant manager in Brazil, Indiana.

The state said nearly 95,000 jobs remain open across Indiana. About half of those in sectors the state deems in high-demand: advanced manufacturing, transportation, construction, health and tech.

State leaders said those areas could spur future employment. They’re jobs that require specific skills. But the problem is many people don’t have the necessary training to get these jobs.

“We need to connect the workforce with those job opportunities today. They need to be filled,” Holcomb said.

So the state unveiled the . There is $10 million for a grant program that could allow Hoosiers to enroll for free at Ivy Tech Community College or Vincennes University to get a certificate in those targeted areas of growth. Those certificates usually take a year to complete.

“With this, people can see the end of the tunnel. More importantly than that, they can see the link to high-demand, high-wage jobs that employers are just frankly begging for today,” said Chris Lowery, Ivy Tech senior vice president.

The state is enticing employers in these sectors, too. Another $10 million grant program can cover costs these companies take on to train new hires.

“I would think this will have an impact nearly immediately,” Lookebill said.

With so many job openings at transportation company Great Dane Trailers, Lookebill said it can struggle getting products to customers on time. But now there’s hope for more hires and better service.

“Will allow us to not only continue our strong manufacturing history in the state of Indiana, but also grow and offer our customers better deliveries and higher quality products,” he said.

These grants are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and job seekers can apply now. The grants are available for up to two years, but state leaders said that money could run dry much quicker.

For more information on how to apply, click here.

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