With the recent announcements by Smart Papers and Mohawk Fine Papers in Hamilton, it is crucial that we take a proactive stance on promoting workforce development to ensure the well-being of Ohioans and future economic growth and opportunity for this state. Now more than ever, we must prepare and educate ourselves on workforce development opportunities that exist for the unemployed, as well as “incumbent” workers.

We must focus our efforts on tools that protect and prepare our workers. “Workforce Development” has become synonymous with job creation and retention in today’s economy, and it is a critical component to job growth. To suggest “job growth” without developing our workforce would be futile.

OhioMeansJobs.com, a website that connects employers and job-seekers, cites that more than 50,000 jobs are available across the state for qualified workers. It is clear that an important focus for improving Ohio’s economy is a well-prepared and educated workforce, which is why I believe Ohio can do a much better job at providing development opportunities for our working citizens. In my role as a state representative, workforce development continues to be at the forefront of my efforts.

I have had the opportunity to travel the state in recent months, serving as chairman of the Ohio House Workforce Development Task Force. This is a bipartisan committee that solicited feedback from employers and employees, educational institutions, agencies, job seekers and students.

Five hearings were held throughout the state, and committee members listened to expert testimony from groups and individuals with practical knowledge in their respective workforce development programs. Experts from our own community provided the committee with very valuable insight. The Southwest Ohio regional hearing was held at Miami University’s Middletown campus, where we heard from 26 expert witnesses.

This timely matter brought about tremendous interest and participation at every hearing. When it was all said and done, we heard testimony from 85 witnesses, encompassing nearly 20 hours of discussion with the committee. While we anticipated hearing the effective aspects of many of our workforce development programs, we were also encouraged to hear ways that the various entities are improving at preparing Ohio’s workforce for jobs that are available today. Some of the open jobs in Ohio require a special certification; others require a college degree. All of them require a good work ethic and high character.

Locally, we are fortunate to be home to many schools offering classes that lead to college degrees or special certifications that prepare workers for jobs that currently exist. Workforce One is a local agency available to help prepare workers for finding jobs. The types of positions available in Ohio are diverse, so the training and education should match. Accordingly, Ohio must continue to promote a wide-range of education and training options for Ohioans.

All in all, the workforce development system must be effective, collaborative, and ready to meet the ever-changing needs of employment opportunities. There are many programs and agencies that have found ways to partner with employers in their communities, and there are other agencies that need help in identifying partners with whom to collaborate.

The statewide hearings affirmed what we already know to be true: Ohioans are hard-working, motivated, and dedicated individuals that steadfastly contribute to the livelihood of their families and to this state. It is one of our many hopes that our findings will begin to point Ohio back in the right direction.

I encourage you to log on to OhioMeansJobs.com and search for job opportunities that exist in Ohio. While this site is helpful, it is just one of many resources for unemployed and incumbent workers.


Post a Comment