In the coming months, workforce development will be a major focus for the Ohio House. With more and more jobs pouring in, there has never been a more important time to ensure that Ohioans have the necessary skills to meet the challenges of a competitive workplace. Without the appropriate training, our citizens will not be able to take advantage of the employment opportunities popping up all around them. Accordingly, workforce development and job creation go hand in hand.

With Ohio’s recent impressive job growth numbers, it is essential that our network of workforce training programs is able to arm Ohio’s workers with the know-how to fill these new positions. The new jobs gained have numbered over 53,000 in the months of January and February alone. In February, with an increase of 28,300 positions, Ohio gained more jobs than any other state during the one-month period. These encouraging numbers need to be matched with an equally impressive workforce training system.

To this end, the House Workforce Development Task Force was created. The task force recently held five meetings throughout the state in an effort to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of Ohio’s current workforce programs. Employers, jobseekers and representatives from educational institutions were among those who testified at these hearings. From these discussions, the committee gained a wealth of knowledge that will be invaluable as we begin to implement workforce development reforms.

In particular, the hearings brought to light the waste and inefficiency that is embedded in the current system. Presently, Ohio operates a network of 77 workforce training programs in 13 different state agencies. This sprawling set up contains many duplicative services and makes inter-network collaboration difficult. Going forward, the House will focus on consolidation and elimination of these overlapping service offerings. We will also be working to ensure that classes at universities and technical schools arm students with the necessary tools to be competitive in fast growing industries.

Reconfiguring the state workforce development system will be an ongoing project for the General Assembly throughout 2012. I am confident that we can bring these programs up to speed by making the aforementioned changes. With a strong network of workforce development and continued job growth, Ohio’s jobseekers will have every advantage at their disposal.


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