TOLEDO, OH – On Friday morning, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) highlighted an effort to prepare Toledo students for jobs in high-growth industries. Brown toured the Toledo Technology Academy (TTA), a magnet school that promotes sector-based partnerships to ensure that workforce training programs are developed with industry input and tailored to meet companies’ workforce needs. This model is similar to a policy written by Brown and passed by the Senate in 2014.
“Throughout Ohio, I’ve heard from biotech firms, high-tech manufacturers, and small businesses that they’re hiring, but can’t find the employees with the right skills to fill them,” Brown said. “If we want to grow our economy, we cannot afford to let this skills gap continue. That’s why places like the Toledo Technology Academy are so important – serving as a model for what other schools and communities can do across our state and across the country. By partnering with local companies, TTA is building a pipeline of qualified employees who have the specific skills needed to succeed.”
Brown was joined by Donavyn Johnson, a 2014 graduate of TAA who secured an internship through the Academy and now works at Gaging Solutions and Services in the GM Toledo Transmission plant. Darrell Seger, the Plant Gaging Manager, discussed how collaborating with TTA has helped build a pipeline of qualified employees who have the specific skill sets needed for success. Following the press conference, Gary Thompson, director of TTA, and Aryianna Lewis, a junior at TTA, led a tour of the school lab.
TTA partners with 40 local companies that provide internships for seniors. Many of the companies are also part of a governing board that also includes building and district administrators and union leaders, which helps guide curriculum to ensure skills training is aligned with workforce needs. Following the tour and meeting with students, Brown held a roundtable discussion with members of the governing board and community leaders who are involved in the manufacturing apprenticeship initiative.
TTA’s model mirrors Brown’s Strengthening Employment Clusters to Organize Regional Success (SECTORS) Act – legislation that President Obama signed into law in 2014 as part of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The law promotes sector-based partnerships to ensure that workforce training programs are developed with industry input and tailored to meet companies’ workforce needs. SECTORS aims to address the disparity between high unemployment rates and a shortage of skilled workers for many emerging industries by providing grants for sector partnerships among institutions of higher education, industry, organized labor, and workforce boards. These partnerships would create customized solutions for specific industries at the regional level. A sector approach can focus on the dual goals of promoting the long-term competitiveness of industries and advancing employment opportunities for workers.