WASHINGTON, D.C. — New federal resources have been awarded to Canton’s Workforce Initiative Association, also known as the Employment Source, to work with local Workforce Investment Boards to train Ohio workers for high-skill, high-wage jobs across the state. Despite Ohio’s unemployment rate of 7.5 percent, nearly 100,000 Ohio jobs remain unfilled, according to the state’s job search website. The project will serve businesses and workers in 16 Ohio counties: Adams, Brown, Scioto, Pike, Stark, Tuscarawas, Belmont, Carroll, Harrison, Jefferson, Columbiana, Mahoning, Trumbull, Ashtabula, Geauga, and Portage. The project will help ensure that worker training is employer-driven, meaning that more Ohio workers can be prepared to fill jobs in a variety of growing sectors, including solar energy, shale development, advanced manufacturing, and healthcare.
“Across Ohio, I’ve heard from business leaders in the energy, manufacturing, and healthcare sectors who say that they have positions to fill, but can’t find workers with the right qualifications. These funds will allow the Source and workforce development boards across 16 counties to ensure that more Ohioans have the right skills to fulfill jobs in these growing industries and many more,” Brown said. “My SECTORS Act takes a similar approach by aligning worker training programs to the needs of industries that are creating jobs. It would help local communities and educational institutions tailor workforce training to meet industry needs.”
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, which is awarding the funds, Workforce Innovation Fund (WIF) grants are aimed at developing and expanding innovative strategies to help Americans return to work by delivering services more efficiently, facilitating cooperation across programs and funding streams, and focusing on partnerships with specific employers or industry sectors to develop programs that reflect current and future skill needs. The Workforce Initiative Association plans to use the funds to launch the Ohio Business Resource Network (BRN) Expansion project, aimed at connecting workforce development, economic development and education in a collaborative partnership structure to deliver more effective and efficient business services. It is anticipated the BRN will lead to increased use of the workforce system by employers for hiring and on?the?job training and an increased quality of job listings with more high?wage positions.
Many Ohio employers in emerging industries struggle to find workers to fill job vacancies. Brown is the author of the Strengthening Employment Clusters to Organize Regional Success (SECTORS) Act, which would help unemployed workers train for high-tech jobs in their region. The SECTORS Act tailors workforce development to the needs of regional industry, allowing more workers to receive placements and attracting more businesses to a given region. The bill would organize stakeholders connected to a regional industry—businesses, unions, education and training providers, and local workforce and education system administrators—to develop plans for growing that industry. Brown’s SECTORS Act would help ensure that new jobs in Ohio’s expanding natural gas industry are filled by Ohioans. Brown’s bill would organize stakeholders connected to a regional industry—multiple firms, unions, education and training providers, and local workforce and education system administrators—to develop plans for growing that industry.
The Workforce Initiative Association/The Employment Source and the Ohio Local Workforce Investment Board #6 will receive $6 million from the U.S. Department of Labor.