EATON — Lt. Governor Jon Husted met with local leaders and manufacturers on Tuesday, May 11 in Henny Penny’s Wagner Training Center to discuss topics such as finding and training employees.
Businesses are seeking people to come to work and having a difficult time doing it for a variety of reasons, according to Husted, who said along with area manufacturers, he has also been touring the Ohio’s Career Technical Centers, which he called “the best value in America.”
At Upper Valley Career Center, he noted, “I think they had 50, or 56, students last year that while they were going to school, earned more than a million dollars total at that career center. And many of them are leaving and going directly into work and will make more than $50,000 a year. Zero debt, and many of them also have college credits if they want to choose to go on to college opportunities.
“The conversation that I’m trying to facilitate — and encourage more people to buy into — is how, we’re doing a great job, but we can always get better at getting employers and educators to work together, whether it’s through our high schools or career centers, and helping develop a technically skilled workforce of the future that we need, not just in the future, but we need today — if we’re going to capture the opportunity that’s out there for us,” he continued.
“And the communities that do this, right, the states that do this right will be the ones that prosper, and the ones that don’t will fall behind. Why? Because the beauty of Workforce Development conversations is everybody wins when you get it right. Everybody wins,” he said. “Because you have a student or an adult who earns the skill, becomes more employable, has more job security has higher earning power, gives them more freedom to live their version of the American dream. And an employer who gets the talent and skills that they need to compete against anybody in the world. Everyone wins when we get it right in America, and Ohio wins. Because we have more prosperity, more opportunity.
“When Governor [Mike] DeWine and I took the oath of office, I know one of our priorities was to champion career technical education, and to help students earn affordable pathways to great careers without ever having to go into debt. And we’re championing a number of those pathways. We’re doing it even for the incumbent workforce, up-skilling people through programs like TechCred, which hopefully you’ve heard of, and you’re using.”
Under the TechCred program, “We pay up to $2,000 for one of your employees to up-skill in a technical credential. And you pick the employee, you pick the provider, you get approved, and we’ll pay up to $2,000 of their training,” Husted said. “But we don’t pay you back until they earn the credential. So, the taxpayers in the state of Ohio are not on the hook for anything. You earn it, we’ll reimburse up to $2,000, and it works great.”
“We also have a partner program under a TechCred called IMap that allows the individual themselves even if they’re not employed, to go ahead and engage in this up-skilling program. This is for adults. So, there is no excuse. I love to eliminate excuses,” he said. “There’s no excuse. Because everybody in Ohio, can get up-skilled, can get a credential, even when you’re out of school, that leads to one of these great jobs.
“We can’t do it for you. We can try to pave the road, we can try to knock down the barriers, we can try to make the journey of climbing the mountain easier. But we can’t do it for you. We have to continue to help educate people, do the outreach and make these opportunities better.”
Preble County Development Partnership Economic Development Director Brenda Latanza, who moderated the forum, explained the PCDP’s Workforce Development Committee is a large, active one.
“Our Workforce Development Committee, even on Zoom calls, averages 25 to 35 people. And in face-to-face, we’ve had upwards of 45 people with all the superintendents from every school district, some principals, some counselors, our higher ed, our career tech center, our business partners, every business partner represented here today, is on that Workforce Development Committee. Because they are the ones that have the issues that we’re talking about right now with getting their workforce, and everything that they’ve done to work through this past year of the pandemic — I wanted you to hear from them,” she told Husted.
Officials from Henny Penny, Neaton Auto, Bullen Ultrasonics, Silfex, TimkenSteel and others provided updates on their companies workforce needs, the use of TechCred, internships and other programs and Husted acknowledged the role the $300 extra federal Pandemic Unemployment funds played in dissuading workers from seeking employment.
“We announced yesterday that we’re resuming the work search requirements so that 200,000 people that are on unemployment now have to search for work,” Husted said. “And if you offer them a job, and they refuse to take the job, or you call somebody back and refuse to take the job, you can report them to ODJFS. And they can be sanctioned and lose their benefits. We’re going to try to make that process easier. But we need employers to report if they have somebody that won’t take those jobs. That will be effective the week of May 24.”
Husted also paid a visit to students at Eaton High School while in town, meeting with Eaton Community Schools Superintendent Jeff Parker, Preble County ESC Assistant Superintendent Shawn Hoff, ESC Career Connections Director Harold Niehaus, other school staff, and several students already on different career paths. The discussion included everything from Eaton’s Project Lead the Way, various credentialing projects and more.
“I do these visits so that I can learn about the innovative things that high schools are doing to help students earn early college credits and prepare them for careers. Just today, we met a high school junior who had already achieved earned her associate degree from Sinclair,” Husted said following the school visit. “We met a high school senior who is graduating and is going to go right to work at Parker Hannifin literally days after she graduates. What we have is a school who has done a great job at aligning their curriculum to the needs of the community — what do the employers need, what are they hiring. They prepare these students with those skills, and many of them are heading straight into careers. Others are earning college credits while they’re still in high school, which will help make sure they don’t have college debt as they pursue their higher educational opportunities.
“Ohio is leading in this manner,” Husted added. “We are getting more high schools and career centers that are focused on helping students get real world work experience, while they’re in high school, graduate with industry credentials so that they can go into construction, electronics, automotive, manufacturing, cyber-security, security, coding, healthcare, you name it — and that’s the pathway of the future.”
“Every school has to do a better job reaching students, getting them enrolled in the right kinds of programs, so that when they leave high school, they’re ready to go out and take care of themselves. And that’s what they’re doing here, and what we’re doing in career technology centers like MVCTC,” Husted added.