ANDERSON – Indiana has become only the third state to sign a memorandum of cooperation with Japan to advance collaborative efforts toward two-way investment, trade and workforce development, Gov. Eric Holcomb said.
During a telephone interview with The Herald Bulletin from Japan on Thursday, Holcomb said workforce development has been discussed in every meeting with Japanese business leaders during his trip.
“We have a strong economy in Indiana and are now looking to continue that growth,” he said. “We are committing resources to infrastructure and workforce development improvements.”
Holcomb said companies across the state indicate they would hire more people if they could find people with the necessary skills.
“We’re hearing the same thing in Japan,” the governor said. “In Indiana, we have a program to provide grants for skills training.”
More than 5,000 Indiana residents have signed up for the program, Holcomb said, and 146 businesses have applied for state grants to train workers.
The memorandum includes 10 focus areas of cooperation with mutual benefit, including economic development and investment, workforce development, advanced manufacturing and materials, automotive, aerospace and aviation, infrastructure, life sciences, agribusiness, information technology and academics.
“We’re again at the front of the line,” Holcomb said of the agreement. “I traveled to Japan to reassure them and to hear what is on their minds. It revolved around workforce development.”
Holcomb said there are 100,000 unfilled jobs in Indiana and it will take a partnership of local companies, schools and state and local government to meet the demand.
“All we’re missing to fill those good-paying jobs is to close and bridge that skills gap,” he said. “Japanese companies are willing and wanting to hire more Hoosiers."