ROI Awarded $134,000 Grant from DWD to Develop Information Technology Work-based Learning Opportunities      

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ROI and regional partners accepted the award at the Indiana Sector Summit on Thursday, October 20. Left to right: Commanding Officer of NSWC Crane Captain JT Elder, ROI Life Sciences Sector Specialist Laura Englander, Jasper Engines & Transmissions People Services Representative Kate Schwenk, ROI Interim CEO Tina Peterson, ROI National Security and Defense Sector Specialist Angel Reece, Radius Indiana Manager Joe Timbrook, and ROI Director of Education and Workforce Todd Hurst.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – The Indiana Department of Workforce Development (DWD) announced on Thursday that Regional Opportunity Initiatives, Inc. (ROI) and its regional partners have been awarded a Skill UP Indiana! grant of $134,228. The grant will be used to create internship opportunities across multiple industry sectors in Southwest Central Indiana. The outcome of such experiences will be a more highly qualified and work-ready talent pool to meet the current and growing demand for information technology (IT) professionals.

“In our discussions with regional industry partners, we’ve identified a strong need for IT, whether the company is a small advanced manufacturing firm, a national defense engineering contractor, or a multinational life sciences company,” said ROI Interim CEO Tina Peterson. “We’re grateful to Indiana DWD for this unique opportunity to deploy a new approach to talent development and retention in the field of IT that will have a broad impact for many people, companies, and communities in Southwest Central Indiana.

The Indiana DWD launched the Skill UP Indiana! grant program in 2015 to encourage the development and enhancement of the necessary knowledge, skills and abilities that Hoosiers will need to meet the demands of the jobs of the future. The Skill UP Indiana! grant program leverages partnerships and regional collaboration for implementation of a range of initiatives leading to increased skill attainment and career exposure opportunities for Indiana youth and adult students. To date, DWD has awarded 25 Skill UP grants to regional partnerships to develop training and education programs that align to employer needs.

ROI’s partners for the Skill UP Indiana! regional initiative in Southwest Central Indiana includes a broad set of stakeholders from industry, education, and the workforce development sectors. ROI will coordinate and facilitate internships for postsecondary students at Ivy Tech Community College – Bloomington and Vincennes University, including organizing multiple participating companies, training candidates in soft skills and work ethics, and providing the funding to allow the internships to be a paid experience.

Currently, nine employers across the 11-county region of Southwest Central Indiana have signed up to participate in the initiative: Artisan Electronics, Cook Group, Hanapin Marketing, Indiana Furniture, Indiana University Health, Jasper Engines and Transmissions, Singota Solutions, Technology Service Corporation, and Tristar Engineering. These employers, plus more being sought for the initiative, will benefit by having a direct connection to an increasing pipeline of qualified talent in the field of information technology, an area that employers in the region have identified for projected growth.

ROI and the Region 8 Works Council have partnered with Vincennes University and Ivy Tech Community College – Bloomington to develop to a one-year certification program, which includes one semester of a 3/2 work and learn model.  The 3/2 model is designed to allow students to attend classes 3 days a week and work 2 days a week with an industry partner. In this program, students will be enrolled in a one-year educational pathway leading to an in-demand certificate in the field of IT.

“Ivy Tech Community College – Bloomington is honored to partner with our colleagues at Vincennes University, ROI, and area employers,” said Jennie Vaughn, chancellor of Ivy Tech’s Bloomington campus.  “Internships provide useful work experiences for students, beneficial contributions to the employer’s workforce, and they are a win-win for students, employers and our communities.”

“This program represents the kind of collaboration needed to address Indiana’s skills gap, added Chuck Johnson, president of Vincennes University. “Everywhere I go, I hear about the need for employees to have both technical and practical skills. This program will offer great opportunities to develop a workforce that has both.”

ROI will also be hiring a Work-Based Learning Specialist to work directly with employers to design and implement the work-based learning experience for students and provide vital soft skills training to prepare interns for a successful experience and future employment. For more information on this position, view Job Opportunities.

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