WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) visited displaced auto workers participating in an advanced manufacturing class at Sinclair Community College in Dayton today. Brown also sat-in on a class and spoke with students.
“Sinclair and Ohio’s network of community colleges are one of the best kept secrets of our nation. They’re at the frontline of our efforts to meet the demand for high-skilled workers in high-growth sectors like clean energy manufacturing, health care, and information technology,” Brown said. “Despite our state’s high unemployment rate, more than 21,000 jobs are unfilled because employers can’t find workers with the right skill sets. To help close that gap, I introduced the SECTORS Act that would connect our education, job training, and economic development programs with key industry sectors to strengthen regional economies. If we want to attract employers in high-growth industries, we must assure them we have the regional workforce to meet their needs.
Today, Brown was joined by Sinclair Community College President Steven Johnson, Ph.D. and a dislocated worker who is receiving advanced manufacturing training at the school for a new career through Sinclair Community College. The college’s advanced manufacturing curriculum is industry-driven and focused to prepare students for work in both large and small manufacturers. Brown visited an advanced manufacturing class and spoke with the students.
At the White House Summit on Community Colleges earlier this month, President Obama advocated for a jobs training initiative similar to Brown’s Strengthening Employment Clusters to Organize Regional Success” (SECTORS) Act. The SECTORS Act would support the development of specialized workforce training programs at two-year colleges to meet regional workforce needs of emerging industries or “sectors.” In July 2010, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the companion bill to Brown’s legislation. Ohio Representatives Steve Austria (OH-7), Marcia Fudge (OH-11), Tim Ryan (OH-17), Zack Space (OH-18), and Betty Sutton (OH-13) are cosponsors of the bill.
The SECTORS Act addresses the disparity between high unemployment rates and a shortage of skilled workers for many emerging industries. Despite the nation’s 9.5 percent unemployment rate, there is still demand in today's labor market for skilled workers. This is particularly true for “middle-skill” jobs that require more than a high school degree but less than a four-year college degree. These jobs make up nearly half of America’s labor market and provide good compensation for workers.
To address this disparity, the SECTORS Act provides grants for sector partnerships among institutions of higher education, industry, organized labor, and workforce board. 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.
Between 2000 and 2007, Ohio experienced a 24.3 percent drop in manufacturing employment, shedding nearly 230,000 jobs. Overall employment dropped by nearly 3.6 percent in the same time period. Compared with other states in the region, Ohio is one of only three that did not fully recover jobs lost after the 2001 recession. Ohio also had the second highest manufacturing job losses, behind Michigan.