Three-year workforce development focused on recruiting and upskilling workers
By Terry Troy
The Ohio Manufacturers’ Association (OMA) and the State of Ohio have been awarded a three-year, $23,492,808 federal grant through the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) $500 million Good Jobs Challenge program.
The initiative aims to get Americans back to work by strengthening workforce partnerships that lead to well-paying jobs. Awardees were announced by EDA last week. The OMA-State of Ohio proposal is one of 32 grants funded nationwide.
The proposal highlights partnerships on initiatives, partner support and more than $100 million in leveraged funds from entities, including: the Ohio Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation, Ohio Department of Development, JobsOhio MEP, Ohio Department of Higher Education, Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, and others.
“The level of collaboration and commitment from state partners is unprecedented for a funding request of this magnitude,” said Ryan Augsburger, president of the OMA. “Ohio is the third largest manufacturing state in terms of jobs, and it is a national leader in emerging technologies. Manufacturers statewide have an extreme demand for skilled workers, which is what we intend to address with this EDA investment.”
“By providing Ohioans with opportunities to upskill or be trained in cutting-edge careers, we will grow Ohio’s workforce, especially in the manufacturing, broadband and electric vehicle sectors,” Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said. “We want to continue to help provide Ohio employers with qualified workers in order to grow their businesses, and this grant will help us do just that.”
“Since the start of the DeWine-Husted Administration, we have focused on creating opportunities to upskill and reskill Ohioans at all levels, including through programs such as TechCred and IMAP,” said Lt. Governor Jon Husted, who serves as director of the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation. “While the Good Jobs Challenge grant will mainly focus on upskilling Ohioans for jobs in the manufacturing industry, strengthening this sector will only help strengthen Ohio’s economy and the rest of our workforce as a whole.”
In recent years, the OMA has helped establish a statewide network of industry sector partnerships (ISPs). With the resources from the Good Jobs Challenge grant, each ISP will receive up to $930,000 to carry out various elements of the program.
Ohio’s ISP network has a collective membership of 1,654 manufacturers, with 120 of those businesses submitting letters of commitment to source new hires from this initiative. In total, these employers have indicated a demand for more than 25,000 hires over the next five years at an annual wage of at least $17.60/hour, which reflects the prevailing wages for the initiative’s targeted, in-demand occupations of machining, production, welding, industrial maintenance, and automation and robotics.
In total, these targeted occupations are projected to have 50,000-plus annual openings and 150,000 openings in the next 36 months in Ohio – numbers that are likely to grow.
In addition to focusing on skilled manufacturing positions, the OMA-State of Ohio award includes funding to support Ohio’s Broadband and 5G Sector Partnership, which is housed at The Ohio State University and led by the Wireless Infrastructure Association. The funding support from this proposal will focus on costs related to starting and scaling broadband and 5G education and training programs across the state.
Broadband and 5G are expected to create more than 107,000 jobs in Ohio this decade. Funding to build the education and training infrastructure for the telecommunications industry will provide Ohio a key competitive advantage.
This initiative reaches the entire state with prioritization of Ohio’s 32 Appalachian communities, the eight largest urban counties, and under-represented groups among the manufacturing workforce, including people of color, women, veterans, and returning citizens.
“We project 1,000 Ohio employers to engage in hiring, retaining, or advancing a participant served by this initiative,” Augsburger said. “Our goal is to enroll 6,000 participants across the state in one or more training programs that lead to a job offer or upskilling opportunity at their incumbent employer. Added emphasis will be on reaching job seekers from under-represented communities.”
In response to regional needs and the needs of the target populations, the ISPs will execute an OMA-developed, evidence-based Entry-Level Learn-and Earn (ELLE) model to prepare a future workforce. The strategy – which gives employers the opportunity to build a workforce trained to their specific needs – includes recruiting, pre-screening, preparing job-skills training, onboarding, and ongoing support and job-coaching components.
Another facet of the initiative involves the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation and the OMA convening and leading a statewide task force that will bring together key industry leaders to identify hiring and skill needs in electric vehicle manufacturing and the related supply chain.
The OMA will quickly mobilize by completing the contracting and sub-award processes and hiring key staff within 90 days.
“Ultimately, the Good Jobs Challenge grant will lay the groundwork for exponential, ongoing impacts beyond the 36-month grant period by operationalizing sustainable, new training programs, formalizing referral partnerships, accelerating ISPs’ momentum, and building under-represented communities’ interest in well-paying manufacturing careers,” Augsburger said.