INDIANAPOLIS - Gov. Mike Pence reaffirmed his desire for Indiana schools to do more to prepare students for available jobs.
Pence told an education and workforce summit on Friday he supports regional councils to help tailor vocational programs.
The governor told summit participants Indiana needs more career, technical and vocation education.
Although Democratic State Superintendent Glenda Ritz appeared to contradict him, Pence said he looks forward to working with her.
Pence told the summit audience that the time has come to emphasize vocational education.
He said the state's big budget surplus will enable it to spend money in that area and help Hoosiers who can't find work, even though jobs are available.
"This is a challenging time for too many in our state,” said Pence. “Unemployment in Indiana is at 8.2 percent. A quarter of a million Hoosiers are out of work. And today, in particular, I want to talk about the attendant question of the morning, which is how do we draw a greater and more effective connection between the needs in our economy and the needs of our people?"
Pence said his feelings in this area have been reinforced as he talks to Indiana business owners who have jobs but can't find qualified people to fill them.
"As often as I saw, 'No Jobs Available' signs in the window, I saw, I talked to employers that said we can't find, we can't find men and women that have the background and the training."
Ritz seemed to contradict Pence as she called for more emphasis on math and English.
"We have to be able to have a well-rounded curriculum,” said Ritz. “We can't focus just on manufacturing jobs or just opportunities that might be in a vocational setting."
But Pence said afterward he sees no contradiction.
"I'm grateful for Superintendent Ritz's focus on workforce development and to bringing career, technical and vocational education as a priority in every high school," Pence said. "And we look forward to continuing to work with her."
Pence said his emphasis on vocational education does not mean just manufacturing.
He said it can include office jobs that high school graduates can fill if they can get a minimum amount of training on things like accounting and software.