Indiana's secretary of career connections and talent says a regional effort will be key to building a skilled and ready workforce throughout the state. Blair Milo says Indiana's 21st Century Talent Regions program will give 12 pilot communities to work directly with the Office of Career Connections and Talent and the Indiana Economic Development Corp. to build and implement workforce development plans. Milo says the ultimate goals are growing educational attainment, population and wages in the communities.

Milo detailed the effort on a special all-women edition of Inside INdiana Business With Gerry Dick.

Regions are self-defined by participants. Milo says they should include local government, business, K-12 education, higher education, nonprofit, economic development and workforce development leaders.

The effort is inspired in part on the Columbus-based Economic Opportunities Through Education network. That program led to the Lumina Foundation naming Columbus and southeast Indiana as a Talent Hub. Milo's office says other similar efforts, including the Horizon Education Alliance in Goshen and CivicLab have seen success.

The 21st Century Talent Regions program is part of Governor Eric Holcomb's Next Level Agenda. Milo says workforce development efforts like the regional program are crucial, because Indiana is expected to have more than 1 million jobs that need to be filled over the next 10 years.

Milo says the 21st Century Talent Regions program along with multiple grant programs allow the state to address "the changing nature of work and ensuring that we're developing awareness for what these kinds of opportunities are, as well as then developing those skills to be able to take advantage of these growing numbers of positions that also have higher wages associated with them."