According to the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation, one of the most critical gaps we face as a state is the “substantial shortage of working-age adults with the degrees and credentials required to be successful in the labor market – in other words, a gap between employer expectations and worker capabilities.”
“We’ve been battling this issue for years, with unsatisfactory results.” (Building Ohio’s Future Workforce)
So, we know there is a disconnect between what employers expect and the skills with which employees are entering the workforce. We also know this isn’t a new concern. How do we make headway to improve the situation?
Statewide, Governor John Kasich has established the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation with the mission of growing Ohio’s economy by developing a skilled workforce, promoting effective training programs and connecting Ohio employers with qualified workers. Locally, the Terra State Community College Board of Trustees has adopted a goal to “be the region’s premier workforce development partner” as part of Vision 2020, the College’s strategic plan.
Over the next few weeks, I will share how Terra State plans to achieve this goal but first I would like to explain some of the exciting things we are already doing.
The top reason students cite for not engaging in career-focused coursework is that they don’t know enough about the options available to them. (New Skills for Youth Survey, a 2016 statewide poll of Ohioans conducted by the Ohio Department of Education)
Beth Hannam, Manager of Business and Industrial Training at Terra State, recently shared a presentation titled “Filling the Talent Pipeline” in which she highlights how the College is partnering with local stakeholders to educate students k-12 about these options.
The Skilled Trades Apprenticeship Readiness Training (START) program is one example. This year will mark the third year of a partnership between Materion and Terra State to provide free, hands-on activities for students in grades 10-12. From welding to electrical, this program is helping engage and inform high school students about career opportunities in the skilled trades. For more information about this program visit http://www.terra.edu/STARTprogram.html or https://youtu.be/K3g1wfGUn4k.
Another example is the Sandusky County THINK Manufacturing Showcase, also in it’s third year. This event is geared toward students in ninth grade with the goal of exposing young adults to the field of advanced manufacturing while changing the perceptions about today’s manufacturing environment. Terra State is proud to provide the location for the showcase that is hosted by the Sandusky County Economic Development Corporation (SCEDC). Beth Hannam serves on the planning committee and many of our faculty and staff volunteer as this event and similar career showcase efforts in Ottawa and Seneca Counties. For more information about this event visit http://www.sanduskycountyedc.net/think-manufacturing/manufacturer-career-showcase/.
The Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation has made the following recommendation to the Governor’s Executive Workforce Board: Promote collaboration of local chambers of commerce, regional economic development groups and JobsOhio with community colleges, Ohio Technical Centers and K-12 to align with the job demands of Ohio businesses.
Terra State is proud that we have ongoing partnerships with community and business groups throughout our service delivery area. Personally, I serve on the Board of Directors for the Sandusky County Economic Development Corporation (SCEDC) and the Ottawa County Improvement Corporation (OCIC). Cory Stine, our Vice President for Institutional Advancement and Executive Director for the Terra College Foundation, serves on the Board of Trustees for the Sandusky County WSOS.
This is a small sampling of our efforts. We collaborate with partners in all five of our service areas (Sandusky County, Seneca County, Erie County, Ottawa County, Huron County) and several multi-county groups such as Northern Ohio Region Economic Development (NORED) and Regional Growth Partnership (RGP).
The goal set by the Terra State Board of Trustees and the recommendations to the Governor’s Executive Workforce Board are complex and “will require unwavering commitment, fresh new ways of thinking, and above all, unprecedented levels of collaboration among stakeholders.” (Building Ohio’s Future Workforce) Terra State is ready for the challenge and is inspired to dynamically transform Ohio’s future workforce.