INDIANAPOLIS - The Indiana Office of Technology has become the first state agency to be certified to offer a State Earn and Learn program. The designation comes from the state's Office of Word-Based Learning and Apprenticeship, which aims to help skill-up the Hoosier workforce. The IOT says it is partnering with Ivy Tech Community College to give working-age adults the chance the earn information technology credentials while undergoing on-the-job training.

Joseph Cudby, chief technology officer for the state of Indiana, tells Inside INdiana Business the effort is part of Governor Eric Holcomb's priority to drive apprenticeships.

"When I look at how people get into IT, a lot of people come in thinking you have to have a four-year degree to get into technology. That is quite not the case," said Cudby. "If you have aptitude, you can be taught; you can be trained. And that's really the objective of having the State Earn and Learn program is that we can bring folks who have an aptitude, but have never really had computer experience and don't have a four-year degree in that and bring them through a structured program of both industry certifications and on-the-job training in order to get them to a point where they can deliver very well for the state and for our constituents."

SEAL programs, according to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, are structured, scalable programs that run from eight weeks to two years and include industry certifications tailored for any industry. The IOT program will run from 12-26 months and plans to begin with a small cohort of up to 10 students.

Once a student is accepted into the program, they will become a paid IOT employee. They will be trained in Hybrid System Support, as Citizen Developers or Citizen Data Scientists, according to the IOT.

Cudby says the effort will help drive the state to identify and hire the next generation of technology professionals and build a pipeline to fill the skills gaps of the next decade.

"As a big picture, I could see this as being sort of an IT apprenticeship that we could use statewide," said Cudby. "Working with the Office of Technology, this is a great place to sort beta (test), if you like, run it with a small cohort of folks, make sure it all works, validate it all out, and then expand out to other agencies. All of the agencies have these same gaps in skills; it's basically the same gaps in skill the entire industry is feeling. So there's certainly opportunity here to sort of treat this as a statewide IT apprenticeship."