SIDNEY – There are plenty of affordable pathways to great careers throughout Ohio, including in Shelby County, Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said Friday afternoon during a stop in Sidney.
Husted visited Ferguson Construction in Sidney for a discussion with members of the Workforce Partnership of Shelby County as part of In-Demand Jobs Week. The Republican traveled to locations throughout the state all week to spread the message that there are thousands of jobs available for Ohioans and that they’re attainable without the burden of college debt.
“There are a lot of great career opportunities out there right now,” Husted said. “There are over 93,000 jobs in Ohio right now on OhioMeansJobs.com that pay $50,000 a year or more. The jobs are abundant. The training is available, and in most cases the training is free. We need to get people off the bench and into the game so they can start leading a higher quality of life.”
Along with spreading his message, Husted also listened as members of the Workforce Partnership of Shelby County described how businesses and schools in the county are working together to prepare students for current and future jobs.
“The model they have here in Shelby County is as good as any place in the state,” Husted said. “They started years ago at bringing educators and business together to build programs, curriculum and recruit students, that they have the talent that they need to succeed.”
The Workforce Partnership of Shelby County was founded in 2013 to educate students about local job opportunities available to them and to provide skills required to thrive in the workforce.
Throughout Ohio, high schools, career centers and community colleges are preparing students for jobs, Husted said. Students can earn industry credentials and college credits at the same time, the lieutenant governor said, sometimes earning an associate degree while they’re still in high school.
Many companies also will help their employees pay for additional education, allowing Ohioans to attain degrees without having to take on student loans.
“You do not have to go to college to have a great career, and you don’t have to take out one penny of college debt to get a college degree,” Husted said. “You just have to know how to navigate the system, and that’s what we’re trying to help people do.
“It’s not like there’s two choices, you’re going to go the career path or you’re going to go the college path. Actually, the blended path is what’s happening. That’s the new trend.”
While the Workforce Partnership has done a good job of educating students about the opportunities available to them, it’s still trying to improve its outreach to parents to convince them that college isn’t the only path to success, said John Campbell, general manager of Wayne Trail in Fort Loramie.
“We’re doing a good job with Workforce, I think, of educating kids about what opportunities they have,” he said. “But I think we’ve noticed a gap in trying to educate and enlighten the parents.”
Along with educating students and their parents, Husted said, he’s also working to educate employers. He and Gov. Mike DeWine have proposed additional funding in the state budget for TechCred, which helps employers upskill current and future employees.
“The pace of our recovery and our ability to attract and grow jobs in the state will primarily hinge upon the development of the talent and of the people,” said Husted, who also highlighted programs through career centers and community colleges that retrain adults for new jobs.
Another way Shelby County leaders thought they could improve their workforce development was by reaching students before they get to high school.
Midwest Regional ESC Superintendent Scott Howell said plans are underway to create a countywide program that would help sixth through eighth grade students find their passion and guide them toward a rewarding career.
“It’s not difficult to find a job that has a living wage,” he said. “What’s more difficult is to find a job with a living wage that you actually enjoy, is your passion.
“Life is a whole lot better when you’re earning a living doing something that you don’t dread to wake up.”
The local officials also talked about reinforcing soft skills, such as punctuality, teamwork and communications, at the junior high or even elementary levels.
The key to prosperity in Ohio will be getting people the skills they need to succeed in the workforce, Husted said, adding he’s involved in weekly conversations with businesses that are looking to locate to Ohio or expand their operations in the state.
“Every time we increase somebody’s skills, we increase their earning power, we increase their job security, we make employers more competitive, and everybody prospers,” Husted said.
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