There is a direct relation between creating jobs and developing Ohio’s workforce. Available jobs are essentially worthless unless there is a trained and capable workforce ready to fill them. Likewise, training individuals for the workforce is only as valuable as the number of jobs they can attain.

During the past year, job creation has been the top priority of House Republicans. Specifically, the goal from the first day of session last year has been on discovering ways to decrease the cost of doing business in Ohio, which in recent years has been anything but friendly to small businesses. Too much government and not enough freedom in the private sector equate to a sluggish economy and a citizenry interested in finding ways out of the state.

As we now move forward into the second half of the 129th General Assembly, I am proud of the progress that Ohio has made. Through the creation of JobsOhio and other pieces of business-friendly legislation, including tax credits and reductions, the state of Ohio has seen its unemployment rate drop from 10.6 percent two years ago to 7.7 percent today. Also in that time, more than 21,000 jobs have been created in the state, resulting in Ohio moving up 39 places (from 48th to 9th) in job creation nationwide.

With new jobs being created, we now have to focus on filling them. It is not the government’s job to place people into job positions, but elected officials should make it a priority to do everything in their power to help those looking for work find the jobs that are available. This includes not only informing the public of the available jobs, but also ensuring that the talents of the workforce correlate to the market’s needs. It is in everyone’s best interest that this be given considerable attention.

The House has moved forward on this mission, beginning with the creation of the Workforce Development Study Committee. This committee held hearings throughout Ohio late last year and received input from employers, job seekers and anyone else who had ideas about strengthening our state’s workforce development program. Currently, Ohio has 77 different workforce development programs spanning 13 state agencies. Anyone can see how this might lead to inefficiency, ineffectiveness and a lack of accountability.

As we progress into 2012, the House will focus on consolidating some of these programs and eliminating those that are either redundant or obsolete. Part of this effort will include finding ways to enhance communication between the agencies and programs, as well as adopting strategies that have been proven to work.

Instead of looking for ways to regulate people and businesses, government should be committed to working with our citizens to ensure that the Ohio that our children and grandchildren grow up in is a thriving environment to find jobs and raise their families. A refusal to make substantive changes to the current system will only result in future generations raising their families elsewhere.


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