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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, May 10, 2017 1:00 am

ROADTRIP to the future

Program helps Hoosiers with training costs

Teresa Lubbers

Teresa Lubbers is Indiana's commissioner for higher education.

Indiana, like much of the Midwest, is a state in transition. High-paying jobs that only require a high school diploma are rapidly being replaced as a result of advances in technology and automation. Education and training beyond high school have become the new tickets for admission to the middle class and a good job.

Studies predict that, by 2020, nearly two-thirds of all new jobs will require higher education and training. Over the next decade, Indiana will need about 1 million new skilled workers to replace retiring baby boomers and fill the jobs being created. Many of these jobs will require a two- or four-year degree, but many others will require a certificate or other quality credential.

Indiana is meeting this need head-on with the state's new Workforce Ready Grant. It represents a bold promise to working-age Hoosiers: If you enroll in a high-demand certificate program at Ivy Tech, Vincennes University or other approved training provider, Indiana will make sure your costs are covered.

Created by the Indiana General Assembly with the support of Gov. Eric Holcomb, the Workforce Ready Grant is designed for the nearly 2 million working-age Hoosiers with only a high school diploma or some college but no credential. Investing in these citizens is crucial to their personal well-being and Indiana's economic growth. But we can't stop there.

Indiana also must prepare our younger students for the careers of the future. Our state's workforce is changing rapidly, but many Hoosiers still have a limited understanding about the diverse range of high-growth, high-demand opportunities available to those with the right education and the work ethic to match.

That's why we're launching Roadtrip Indiana, a new state-led initiative that aims to help Hoosier students find their future career paths through more intentional exploration and direct engagement with employers across the state.

Based on the long-running PBS program “Roadtrip Nation,” the first-in-the-nation, state spin-off will follow Hoosier students on a journey across Indiana as they explore their career interests through interviews with a variety of Indiana employers. Roadtrip Indiana will also provide classroom resources for schools and a platform to engage more employers in sharing their career stories.

Taken together, the Workforce Ready Grant and Roadtrip Indiana demonstrate a strong commitment to supporting Hoosiers at both ends of the state's talent pipeline.

Our best hope for the future is taking steps now to build the human capital for a dynamic economy and changing workforce needs.