INDIANAPOLIS — Gov. Eric Holcomb has created another new state office focused on developing Indiana's workforce.

The Republican signed an executive order Thursday establishing the Indiana Office of Apprenticeships and Work-Based Learning, within the Department of Workforce Development, to boost the number of Hoosiers participating in federal apprenticeship programs and a soon-to-be-created state apprenticeship system.

The new office also is tasked with increasing "business and industry engagement in schools," as well as expanding "work-based learning models for both youth and adult populations."

"With more than 80,000 open jobs around the state, we can’t wait for students to get out of school to fill them. We need to skill-up working adults as quickly as possible," Holcomb said.

"That’s why expanding opportunities for working adults, in particular, is so critical — because they need (the) ability to work and earn money while they learn the skills they need to enter a new career in a high-wage, high-demand field. This office makes this possible."

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The governor did not immediately name a director for the new office or say how much he or she will be paid.

Just eight months ago, Holcomb appointed former LaPorte Mayor Blair Milo as Indiana's secretary of career connections and talent to also promote work-based learning and coordinate state agency efforts to better prepare Hoosiers for open jobs.

Milo earns $171,500 per year.

Holcomb additionally is pressing the General Assembly to approve House Bill 50, which would create a 17-member Governor's Workforce Cabinet to develop strategies for providing career coaching to middle school, high school, postsecondary and adult students throughout the state.

The governor said in his State of the State address in January that he considers workforce development "the defining issue of the decade."

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