My colleagues and I in the Ohio House have been implementing job creation measures throughout this General Assembly, and I am happy to report that Ohio has seen a great turnaround in employment opportunities already in 2012. In February, Ohio gained a total of 28,300 jobs, building on the addition of 25,000 jobs in January. In fact, Ohio was number one in the nation in jobs gained throughout the month of February. Coupled with a steadily decreasing unemployment rate, now sitting below the national average at 7.6 percent, our job market is stronger than it has been in some time.

While this news is something that all Ohioans have cause to celebrate, job creation is not the only requirement for a thriving workforce. It is absolutely essential that working Ohioans are properly trained to fill the new positions that have sprung up in the midst of all this job growth. Many of these positions are in cutting-edge fields, such as the high-tech industry, and require a high level of skill. To ensure that our citizens have the opportunity to acquire these necessary skills, a successful state network of workforce development is a must.

In response to this need, the House Workforce Development Task Force recently was created. This committee has held five meetings throughout the state, hearing testimony from jobseekers, employers and educational institutions. With this testimony, the House now has the feedback it needs to implement reforms that will make a difference in Ohio’s workforce training system.

At the present, Ohio operates 77 workforce training programs spread out in 13 different state agencies. This unwieldy system is difficult to navigate and a prime example of government waste and inefficiency. Collaborative efforts are all but impossible in a network of such a scale, and there is little chance that good policies will be passed from one program to another. There are also many duplicative services offered throughout the system, which benefits no one and only wastes state funds.

While this picture looks rather bleak, there are many ways to increase the effectiveness of Ohio’s network of workforce training programs. Simple consolidation measures can go a long way to reduce duplicative services. This will also open up the door for more collaboration, strengthening communication efforts between programs. Tailoring programs to ensure that they teach the skills needed for existing jobs is also a great way to better the system. Throughout the coming months, the House will be working to make these proposals a reality.

Judging by our recent job creation numbers, Ohio is poised for even greater economic success in the future. Workforce development will continue to be an important ingredient in this success, and you can expect to see a stronger network of training programs as the House begins to translate our recent research in legislation.


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