Sarah Loesch, Princeton Daily Clarion
PRINCETON — The State of Indiana anticipating a million job openings over the next 10 years, and Blair Milo wants residents to be ready.
Milo is Indiana’s first Secretary for Career Connections and Talent after her appointment to the position by Gov. Eric Holcomb.
Milo is former mayor of La Porte, where she was born and raised. It was during her time as mayor that former Gov. Mike Pence appointed her to the State Workforce Innovation Council where she chaired the Career Counseling Task Force.
“Local leadership is certainly in my blood,” the Indiana native said. “And I have a great appreciation for all the work that goes on at the local level.”
Milo said it’s a treat for her to travel around the state and dig in with communities at the local level to see what challenges are being faced and how the State may be able to assist.
Milo was in Gibson County as a part of the announcement of the $60,000 grant from Toyota Indiana for adult education programs provided by WorkOne Southwest and Vincennes University. The grant is meant to help make it easier for Indiana residents who want to gain their high school equivalency certificate.
The focus on lifelong learning is something that cannot be understated, Milo said.
“Because of the change in technology and the global connectedness of our world and our markets,” she said, “the need will only continue to grow of having these different types of educational opportunities for everyone in the various stages of their career.”
Programs like Next Level Jobs have been put in place to help facilitate those opportunities.
The Workforce Ready Grant is a part of the Next Level Jobs initiative and provides free job training for Indiana residents with a high school diploma or equivalent, but less than a college degree.
Eligible certificates for the grant are available at Ivy Tech Community College and Vincennes University locations. The job sectors involved are advanced manufacturing; building and construction; health and life sciences; IT and business services; and transportation and logistics.
Milo said much of her time is spent on the road working to connect communities to those types of State resources. In each area she visits, Milo said there are similar challenges, but each place is a little bit different.
She said if there is a common theme of where she sees success happening, it's in places where there is consistent collaboration among partners such as schools, local government, businesses and nonprofits.
In rural areas, like many parts of Gibson County, Milo said conversations often focus on transportation and shared resources. The discussion of the state's broadband initiative also comes up.
Broadband is a focus for Gov. Holcomb and Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch. Last month, Holcomb launched the Next Level Broadband program which dedicates $100 million to help bridge the digital divide in rural areas of the state.
For the initial round of funding, broadband providers can apply for up to $5 million to expand service to unserved areas if they provide at least a 20 percent match. Unserved areas are defined as one without at least one broadband provider offering internet fast enough to provide the most basic services.
Milo is also working to grow the 21st Century Talent Regions. Those regions are self-defined with regard to geography and other factors like anchor employees and commuting patterns.
The regions are ones working toward building a plan for their area that would increase educational attainment, raise household income and growing population.
"We are trying to grow that regional collaboration aspect of things," Milo said. "So that then all the partners are talking to one another as much as possible and that we can be the best resource to the region."