UpSkill Work & Learn and Code/IT programs awarded READI funding; will strengthen regional talent pipeline in the Indiana Uplands
Two talent development programs have been awarded READI funding from the Indiana Uplands READI Steering Committee, ROI Board of Directors, and the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) to prepare high school students and adults for regionally relevant, high-demand careers in the Uplands.
Regional Opportunity Initiatives (ROI) was awarded $ 729,373 in READI funds for the UpSkill Work and Learn program. The Mill was awarded $ 1,370,325 in READI funds to expand Code/IT Academy across 10 Indiana counties over the next three years.
UpSkill Work and Learn
Informed by the modern youth apprenticeship model, UpSkill is a 2-3 year opportunity that provides students in grades 11 and 12 with paid employment, on-the-job experiences, classroom instruction, college credits, and industry-recognized credentials. ROI serves as the intermediary organization working with high schools, students, and employers to facilitate applicants, interviews, placement, trainings, and ongoing guidance.
UpSkill’s pilot program has showed success this first year, with 27 students placed in 6 Uplands counties. Eleven employers and five school districts are participating in the pilot, and the READI funding will allow the program to be scaled to all parts of the region over the next three years. Students are gaining skills in regionally relevant UpSkill positions such as Robotic Tech, Engineering Tech, Business Operations, Information Tech, and CAD Design.
“UpSkill is a unique model with all the right components to develop and retain talent in the Uplands region,” said Vice President of Talent Development Michi McClaine. “Providing a relevant bridge from high school into career pathways is a win-win for both students and the region’s key industry sectors, and ROI is excited to grow the program thanks to READI funding and meaningful partnerships with schools, employers, and postsecondary institutions.”
“We wouldn’t be where we are today without the collaboration and seed funding from valued partners, including New America and Ascend Indiana, added McClaine. “We are grateful to collaborate with high caliber organizations like them that are doing similar work throughout Indiana and nationwide.”
This free, cohort-based program provides skill development in IT administration, web development, and associated technologies. After ten weeks of training, participants earn industry-recognized certifications (e.g., CompTIA Security+ certification, LinkedIn IT certificates, and AWS Cloud Practitioner certification). In addition, they receive professional support to secure a new job or advance within their existing career.
Code/IT Academy is a partnership between The Mill, ROI, and Ivy Tech. The Mill leads program design and administration, facilitates recruitment and enrollment, and offers participant supports such as soft-skills training, study groups, and job referrals. ROI contributes Uplands outreach, marketing, and technical support to the expansion. Ivy Tech delivers all course instruction and provides career coaching through its Ivy+ Career Link program.
“Since 2020, Code/IT Academy has been growing Bloomington’s tech talent pool and helping diverse people access the high-paying jobs and career opportunities of the digital economy,” said Pat East, Executive Director of The Mill. “We’re thrilled that READI, ROI, and the IEDC are empowering us to bring this program to Hoosiers across the Indiana Uplands. We can’t thank Ivy Tech enough for their ongoing collaboration and look forward to the next stage of growing our partnership with them. Finally, today’s expansion is only possible because three years ago, The City of Bloomington boldly invested $100,000 in our vision of a free digital upskilling program. Their leadership for our region will now reap benefits for our state.”
Currently in its seventh cohort in Bloomington, Code/IT Academy has seen a rapid increase in demand. There were 76 applicants for the spring session, which prepares participants to take the CompTIA Security+ certification exam. The training and the exam are free to Code/IT graduates. Of the 30 accepted participants, 50% do not have a college degree, and 80% identify as belonging to a group underrepresented in tech. Using READI funding, Code/IT will be expanded to Washington and Crawford counties this year and the other Uplands counties over the next three years. Classes will take place in person at The Mill in Bloomington and live-stream to satellite locations with on-site facilitators.
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