BRAZIL - The newest cabinet member of the Holcomb administration spent her first day with the governor in Clay County helping to launch an initiative focused on linking Hoosiers to higher-paying, in-demand jobs. Former La Porte Mayor Blair Milo, who now serves as secretary of career connections and talent, says the Next Level Jobs initiative includes "two more tools in our toolbox" to help Hoosiers be successful in their careers: $20 million in skill-up grants for workers and training incentives for employers. She says helping align the skills of the state's work force with the needs of Indiana employers is the "premiere issue" facing Hoosier communities.

In her newly-created, cabinet-level position, Milo says she will go beyond dealing with work force entities to collaborate with a wide swath of stakeholders, including housing aspects, to boost job opportunities while recruiting and retaining talent. "There's a lot of different factors within that equation. K-12 education is certainly one of those many areas. Adult education is one, as well. I think a greater sense of fostering life-long learning and encouraging that as a standard among folks is another element," she told Inside INdiana Business Reporter Mary-Rachel Redman. "Education is a common denominator across all elements of this equation for success."

She says another piece of her position will be sharing Indiana's story and talking up economic and quality-of-life advantages including low cost of living and "basic day-to-day fundamentals" that Milo says stand out compared to competitors.

The Employer Training Grant involves paying qualifying companies as much as $2,500 for training and retention of new hires. It keys in on industries with big work force needs, including advanced manufacturing, agriculture, building and construction, health and life sciences, IT and business services and transportation and logistics.

The Workforce Ready Grant will pay full tuition for adults seeking industry certifications in the aforementioned, high-demand fields. The program will partner with Ivy Tech Community College and Vincennes University on the certificates at campuses statewide.

You can connect to more about the Next Level Jobs initiative by clicking here.