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Gov. Holcomb talks STEM & worker shortage during Elkhart visit

ELKHART, Ind. -- Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb was in Elkhart on Friday to talk about his 2018 ‘Next Level Agenda.’

“We have a shortage of skilled and ready workers throughout the state of Indiana,” Holcomb told a small crowd gathered at the ETHOS Science Center in Elkhart. “No one region or county is unique. So we’ve got to have a holistic view of this.”

Holcomb said a lot of Hoosiers are missing out on solid careers.

He said there are 92,000 unfilled jobs across the state right now; and at least 29,000 more are on the way.

But the governor said more than one million Indiana adults either don’t have a college degree or high school diploma and aren’t qualified to work the jobs that are available.

“Our mission is just to help children learn science and to love science,” said Patsy Boehler, the executive director of the ETHOS Science Center. “When we have the opportunity to learn about science, it develops critical thinking, problem-solving, as well as collaboration.”

Boehler introduced Holcomb on Friday (the video above incorrectly says ‘on Thursday’).

She said what’s taught at the center could help solve the worker shortage.

Robotics is a big part of what they do at ETHOS.

And students spend time at the center, and in the classroom, learning a STEM-based curriculum (science, technology, engineering, and math).

Boehler said the governor’s ‘Next Level Agenda’ could come in handy if the state can make STEM more accessible to all students.

“We really would like to have that as part of the accountability program for all [kindergarten] through six schools, so that those students get those foundations,” she said. “It’s so much easier for us to build a pipeline if students have those foundational skills.”

The ETHOS Science Center has been around since 2001.

The center now calls a building on Michigan Street in Elkhart its first permanent home.

Construction is set to be completed by February.

Boehler said the project was made possible thanks to funding from the Elkhart community and the Regional Cities Initiative.

Holcomb said another step being taken to address the worker shortage is a new ‘Education to Career Pathway’ cabinet that will be chaired by former La Porte Mayor Blair Milo.

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