Next Level Jobs Program Expanded Through End of 2020

CARES Act funds allocated to Indiana’s workforce recovery initiative will expand Workforce Ready Grant and Employer Training Grant 

(INDIANAPOLIS) – The Governor’s Workforce Cabinet today provided additional details on the temporary expansion of Indiana’s Next Level Jobs program. The two programs that make up Next Level Jobs, the Workforce Ready Grant (WRG) and Employer Training Grant (ETG), will have increased eligibility, program offerings and funding caps through December 30, 2020. 

Federal funding of $50 million, allocated through the CARES Act, enables the expansion of Next Level Jobs through Indiana’s “Rapid Recovery for a Better Future” initiative, launched on June 5. Of the money, $37 million will be used to expand the two grant programs. Other funds will support the development of career coaching initiatives, skills training, and recognition of prior learning and experience. 

“Expanding the Next Level Jobs program will give thousands of additional Hoosiers the opportunity to gain the skills needed to succeed in high-demand careers,” said Indiana Governor Eric J. Holcomb. “Investing in these proven programs with our federal dollars will ensure Hoosiers across our state can recover quickly from the negative economic impacts of COVID-19 and secure quality jobs.” 

Individuals can receive free job training for jobs in high-demand fields through the Workforce Ready Grant and $22 million of CARES Act funding is going toward the WRG, enabling at least 10,000 additional Hoosiers to utilize the grant. The Workforce Ready Grant, administered by the Commission for Higher Education, will be temporarily expanded in the following ways: 

  • Hoosiers with two-and four-year degrees are temporarily eligible to receive full tuition reimbursement for short-term Workforce Ready Grant-eligible programs through December 30. (Costs incurred beyond that point will not be reimbursed.)
  • Nearly 50 new certificates have been approved for addition to the current list of eligible programs. Examples of certificate programs that temporarily qualify for the Workforce Ready Grant include Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), Phlebotomy and CNC Machining. Individuals can enroll in some of the new certificate programs now at with additional programs available for enrollment on the site in the coming weeks. 
    • Certificate programs have been selected based on meeting immediate, regional, and emerging workforce needs. Ivy Tech, Vincennes, and the Department of Workforce Development all added programs to the list. 
  • The funding cap per individual has been raised from $5,500 to $10,000 to cover high-quality programs that cost more than $5,500 (with program cost frozen at its current level).

The Employer Training Grant, administered by the Department of Workforce Development, supports employers to train new employees, and upskill or reskill incumbent workers. The Employer Training Grant will be temporarily expanded in the following ways, with $15 million of CARES Act funding, enabling 25,000 more Hoosiers to utilize the grant: 

  • The maximum amount of funding available to an employer has been raised from $50,000 to $100,000. 
  • $5 million will be allocated specifically for minority-, women-, and veteran-owned businesses. 

“Our goal is to ensure that all employers with good, high-demand jobs are aware of the Employer Training Grant funding available, and that each takes advantage of it, including minority-, women- and veteran-owned businesses,” said Fred Payne, Commissioner of the Department of Workforce Development. “The inclusion of these businesses assists our state in ensuring that the promise of an educated and skilled workforce is realized by all Hoosiers and Hoosier businesses.”

The Next Level Jobs program was started in 2017 as part of Governor Holcomb’s focus on skilling up Hoosiers for high-wage, high-demand jobs. Since its inception, the Workforce Ready Grant has enrolled over 25,000 Hoosiers in high-demand, tuition-free certificate programs, with over 13,300 Hoosiers completing a Workforce Ready-eligible certificate program. Individuals who have completed a certificate program have seen an average wage increase of $6,400 a year. The Employer Training Grant has served more than 530 employers and trained nearly 9,000 employees. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, state data show Hoosiers have a heightened interest in Next Level Jobs. The Next Level Jobs site has seen over 100,000 site visits from January to June and Hoosiers are enrolling into the program at four times the rate they were in the months leading up to when Indiana first began stay-at-home orders. Since February, there have been nearly 10,000 additional leads to Ivy Tech Community College, Vincennes University and other training providers, an increase in program enrollments of over 630 people, and more than 1,000 individuals have completed a high-value certificate. 

“We know the Next Level Jobs programs work for Hoosiers, whether it’s individuals seeking education to better their futures or making sure employers have the skilled workforce they require to keep Indiana moving forward in an evolving economy,” said Teresa Lubbers, chair of the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet and the state’s Commissioner for Higher Education. “Expanding these programs, focusing on career coaching and honoring the dignity of prior work and education with this funding ensure we can help Hoosiers get back on their feet quickly.”

To get more information and enroll in Next Level Jobs, visit Individuals looking to connect with education, employment, and financial resources available in Indiana are encouraged to visit Indiana’s Rapid Recovery hub, Free one-on-one assistance helping Hoosiers navigate the Workforce Ready Grant is available through INvestEd by calling (317) 715-9007. 

About the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet
The Governor’s Workforce Cabinet (GWC) was formed in 2018 with the mission of addressing current and future education and employment needs for individuals and employers, strengthening Indiana’s economy by integrating and aligning state and federal resources, and ensuring a talent-driven education and workforce system. The membership of the GWC includes the business community, K-12 representatives, postsecondary institutions, Indiana lawmakers, and leaders from Indiana state agencies. 

About the Indiana Commission for Higher Education 
Created in 1971, the Indiana Commission for Higher Education plans, coordinates and defines Indiana’s postsecondary education system to align higher learning with the needs of students and the state. The Commission also administers Indiana’s financial aid programs, including the 21st Century Scholars early college promise scholarship, which celebrates 30 years in 2020. Learn more about the Commission’s Reaching Higher in a State of Change strategic plan at

About the Indiana Department of Workforce Development 
DWD serves the worker and the employer to ensure workplace success. DWD is committed to innovating and invigorating Indiana’s economic future by providing WorkOne Career Centers, Unemployment Insurance, Labor Market Information, Regional Workforce Strategies and Professional Training. Through these services, DWD is able to develop a premier workforce that enables Indiana employers to flourish and entices businesses from outside our state to relocate to Indiana.

Indiana Launches Statewide Campaign to Help Hoosiers Recover

Rapid Recovery for a Better Future’ focuses on meeting education, workforce and individual needs with help of $50 million in federal funding

In the midst of economic and individual recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, Indiana is helping individuals, communities and businesses get back to work and connect to the resources that can help people move forward.

Indiana’s Governor’s Workforce Cabinet (GWC) is launching the “Rapid Recovery for a Better Future” initiative, which is centered on meeting individual needs by providing comprehensive support for Hoosiers to secure a job, assess and grow their skills, and get the support they need to get back on their feet. 

“Rapid Recovery for a Better Future” combines the leadership of the GWC, Indiana employers, education and training providers, policymakers, and state and local partners with the goal of ensuring Indiana’s recovery from COVID-19 and providing a pathway to a better future for every Hoosier. 

“People are our state’s most valuable resource and they are what define Indiana as a great place to live, work and grow. It is critical that our state is not only providing these services but actively helping people get connected so they take that next step to a better future,” said Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb. 

The Rapid Recovery initiative focuses on helping Hoosiers: 

  • Learn about options and connect to relevant, simple and real-time job, career, skill and educational resources and funding for personal advancement. An online hub, YourNextStepIn.orgprovides connection and one-on-one supports for Hoosiers at the touch of their fingertips. A comprehensive outreach networkwill share the state’s resources with Hoosiers from their own trusted sources: community leaders, pastors or other faith leaders and employers. For those thinking through their education and training options, INvestEdwill provide free, one-on-one financial aid guidance
  • Connect to opportunities with the assistance of career coaches and navigators to empower Hoosiers to assess and develop their skills and gain better understanding of job needs and opportunities. 
  • Take the next step and advance their careers with convenient access to accelerated programs and credentials that value prior learning and experiences, such as the Workforce Ready Grant and Ivy Tech’s Rapid Recovery program—which will provide free courses and training for 10,000 Hoosiers. 
  • In addition, the Rapid Recovery initiative is providing enhanced, consolidated and simplified resources foremployers with the partnership of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.

Federal funding through the CARES Act injects $50 million into the efforts, to scale up short-term education and training opportunities through the Workforce Ready Grant and the Employer Training Grant, as well as expanded career coaching and navigation for those who need help figuring out their next steps. 

CARES Act funding enables Indiana to:

  • Grow short-term education and training by enhancing the Workforce Ready Grant to provide support to at least 10,000 more Hoosiers in the following ways:Increasing the funding cap from $5,500 to $10,000 for eligible programsAllowing Hoosiers with two- and four-year degrees who have been impacted by COVID-19 to qualify for the grant, and adding new programs, such as the Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) and Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)Support access to the 180 Skills library of online, non-credit courses for up to 100,000 Hoosiers 
  • Expand the Employer Training Grant to serve 25,000 more Hoosiers, specifically supporting women-, minority- and veteran-owned businesses; and doubling the amount of reimbursable funds to employers 
  • Provide outreach and promotion to create a single online network to direct Hoosiers to career coaches; and ensure Hoosiers who are most impacted by COVID-19 – especially underrepresented populations and rural communities – are aware of the available opportunities

“The goal of Rapid Recovery for a Better Future is to streamline access to resources, help Hoosiers identify and pursue a path forward, and reach people through trusted and local outreach networks. Utilizing federal funding through the CARES Act will allow us to expand these efforts and reach even more Hoosiers,” said Teresa Lubbers, chair of the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet and Indiana’s Commissioner for Higher Education. “Taking the next step toward a better future is a manageable way for people to move toward economic and workforce recovery, whether that is reskilling for a different job, finishing a credential or finding a new career.”

Connecting with local communities
By engaging regional and community groups, and faith-based organizations through a comprehensive outreach network of more than 100 organizations, the state will share connections and support directly to Hoosiers through other trusted sources, such as pastors and faith leaders, community leaders and employers.

“The Governor’s Workforce Cabinet and other stakeholders have been working on these strategies and priorities to more precisely connect Hoosiers to resources, but the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated these efforts,” said Indiana Department of Workforce Development Commissioner Fred Payne. “By reaching individuals and families, and connecting with employers and communities, Indiana can provide resources and focus at the local level on helping Hoosiers to secure quality jobs and a better quality of life.”

Resources for employers
The Rapid Recovery initiative also focuses on providing enhanced, consolidated and simplified resources for employers in order to grow opportunity in the state in partnership with the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber’s Workforce Institute contains the organization’s Road to Recovery resource center for businesses impacted by COVID-19.

“Our Road to Recovery center outlines guidance for getting employees back to work safely and includes a collection of free webinars that can be accessed immediately,” says Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar. “A special emphasis is on the mental health of all in the workplace through our Wellness Council. Virtual internships are also something employers can consider through Indiana INTERNnet. These are among the available programs we have to help Hoosier companies emerge from the pandemic.”  

To connect to centralized resources available in Indiana, visit and

“The Rapid Recovery initiative is the first iteration of a longer-term strategy to provide a clear and compelling message for Hoosiers to take that next step. We want to make it clear to people that Indiana has their back so they can move forward,” said Lubbers.

About the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet
The Governor’s Workforce Cabinet (GWC) was formed in 2018 with the mission of addressing current and future education and employment needs for individuals and employers, strengthening Indiana’s economy by integrating and aligning state and federal resources, and ensuring a talent-driven education and workforce system. The membership of the GWC includes the business community, K-12 representatives, postsecondary institutions, Indiana lawmakers, and leaders from Indiana state agencies.

Support for the Rapid Recovery for a Better Future Initiative

Ivy Tech Community College President Dr. Sue Ellspermann: “More than 700,000 Hoosiers have filed initial unemployment claims and while many thousands have returned to work, there are still more than 200,000 individuals who are facing unemployment, reduced hours or furloughs. While we hope most will return to their jobs, this is an outstanding opportunity for Hoosiers to make the most of this time away from work to skill up and become more marketable to their current and future employers. Ivy Tech and our partners have come together to provide free relevant training for what we hope will be many more than 10,000 Hoosiers. This is just one example how as Indiana’s community college we stand ready to help Hoosiers recover, and recover quickly.” 

Vincennes University President Dr. Chuck Johnson: “Similar to Governor Holcomb’s efforts to lead Hoosiers in combatting the spread of COVID-19, it is just as critical for us to move quickly to restart an Indiana economy that was hitting on all cylinders. Vincennes University is ready to do its part in this Rapid Recovery effort that will be so important to all of us.”

INvestEd President Joe Wood: “INvestEd is thrilled to provide free individualized support as Hoosiers navigate the financial aid, education and training options within the Rapid Recovery for a Better Future initiative. For nearly 40 years, INvestEd has served Indiana with free, expert financial aid literacy and outreach. As we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential Hoosiers are made aware of the various available resources and programs.”

180 Skills CEO & Founder Joe Kitterman: “180 Skills is proud to support and participate in the Governor’s innovative plan for Indiana’s rapid recovery that will use made-in-Indiana technology to help hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers reskill and upskill in this difficult time. Our library of more than 700 online skills courses will be organized and distributed statewide to help Hoosiers rapidly attain job-ready skills they need to return to the workforce.”

Indiana Office of Career Connections and Talent Secretary Blair Milo: “As Indiana works to reopen, Hoosiers are beginning to think about their next steps in terms of individual and economic recovery. Meeting people where they are and connecting them with relevant employment opportunities to secure a job, educational resources to assess and grow their skills, and critical support to help them get back on their feet is essential to growing a stronger Indiana.”

Paul Perkins, President and CEO of Amatrol, Inc.: “The Rapid Recovery initiative meets individuals looking to make a change with the information and tools necessary to successfully take their next step toward a better future. Businesses will also find the resources they need to get back on their feet and continue growing opportunities for Hoosiers across our state.”

Now Accepting Small Business Loan Applications

A special message from Senator Todd Young, April 6, 2020

Coronavirus – Small Business Loan Applications:  
Friday was the first day small businesses could apply for loans under the Paycheck Protection Program made available from the CARES Act. The Payment Protection Program will support Hoosier employers and workers by authorizing loans for small businesses to utilize for job retention and other expenses. As of April 5, 124,000 loans have been processed totaling $36 billion through the Paycheck Protection Program. To learn more about the program and who is eligible, click here or here.

Hoosiers can also visit or email for additional assistance.

Constituent Spotlight:
Brothers Bradley McHugh and Bruce Merrill from Indianapolis are using their 3D printers to make face shields for hospital workers and first responders. 

It is inspiring seeing Hoosiers like McHugh and Merrill stepping up to help their communities as we navigate this public health emergency. Learn more about their story in the Indy Star’s article: “Brothers turn 3D printers into protective mask producers: ‘We just want to do our part’

Legislative Update:

Support for Farmers During Coronavirus Pandemic
This weekend I joined a bipartisan group of Senators on a letter to the Secretary of Agriculture urging the Administration to ensure the continuity of our country’s food supply and to support rural areas during the coronavirus pandemic by providing needed relief to farmers. Americans always depend on our nation’s farmers to grow the food, fuel, and fiber that we all need, but that reliance becomes much more pronounced in times of crisis. Learn more about my letter here in WSBT’s coverage. 

Protecting Seniors from Coronavirus Scams
At this time of heightened public fears, reports have highlighted that scams pertaining to the coronavirus are increasing, and that seniors—arguably the most vulnerable population to both the coronavirus and bad actors—have been targeted with calls telling them that the COVID-19 vaccination is ready when no such treatment currently exists.

Other reports have outlined how scammers have gone to the homes of elderly people to administer fake tests while also charging them and obtaining their social security numbers.  Although the FTC has sent warning letters to seven sellers of fraudulent COVID-19 treatments, we are concerned that further action is needed to protect the financial wellbeing of seniors—who lose an estimated $3 billion annually from financial scams.

This is why I joined a group of senators urging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to protect seniors from coronavirus-related scams and to assist victims in understanding their recourse options against those attempting to financially exploit them during this pandemic.

Federal Assistance for Small Businesses

The Paycheck Protection Program prioritizes millions of Americans employed by small businesses by authorizing up to $349 billion toward job retention and certain other expenses.

Small businesses and eligible nonprofit organizations, Veterans organizations, and Tribal businesses described in the Small Business Act, as well as individuals who are self-employed or are independent contractors, are eligible if they also meet program size standards.

Webinar: Disaster Assistance Loans from the Small Business Administration

Presented by the Indiana Chamber and Barnes & Thornburg LLP

April 1, 2020 – 12:30 – 2:00 p.m. EDT
No cost for members

Join Barnes & Thornburg attorneys for a discussion about loan programs available through the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the CARES Act and through the SBA’s disaster assistance program. 

The CARES ACT provides for $349 billion to be used to guarantee loans to small businesses and other entities that have 500 employees or less.  Eligible borrowers can obtain up to a $10 million loan based on 2.5 times the average monthly payroll costs as determined over a 12-month or annualized basis (depending on the nature of the business) prior to the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States.  One of the most anticipated provisions of the program is the “forgivable” nature of the loan, in which a borrower under a covered loan can potentially have up to the entire principal amount of the loan forgiven. 

Small businesses and nonprofits affected by COVID-19 may be eligible for up to $2 million in SBA disaster assistance loans. This program will review the SBA economic injury disaster loan (EIDL) process, the documents required for applying for a loan and assess the practical business implications for companies seeking SBA assistance.

The webinar will be presented by Jason Myers and Mary Comazzi of Barnes & Thornburg LLP. 

Also, visit the Chamber’s coronavirus resource page for updated federal and state information as it becomes available.