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Ohio Manufacturing Workforce Partnership Awarded $12 Million to Scale Apprenticeships

By Ohio Manufacturers' Association Press Release

Columbus, OH — The U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) announced today the recipients of its Scaling Apprenticeship Through Sector-Based Strategies grant. The grant includes a $12 million award to Ohio’s Lorain County Community College (LCCC), the lead applicant in collaboration with Ohio TechNet (OTN) and The Ohio Manufacturers’ Association (OMA), collectively known as the Ohio Manufacturing Workforce Partnership (OMWP).

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An instructor and apprentice examine a milling machine.

The funding will play a vital role in helping Ohio address the workforce shortage and skills gap affecting manufacturing, as manufacturers across the state have repeatedly cited workforce as their top issue of concern, according to the organization. With the grant funds, OMWP will upskill 5,000 Ohioans over the next four years through Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Programs (IRAP), an innovative earn-and-learn model recently authorized by the USDOL.

“Ohio manufacturers understand that it’s time to change the way we develop talent,” said OMA president Eric L. Burkland. “Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Programs take the best of traditional, registered apprenticeship – structured on-the-job training, with related classroom instruction, and regularly increasing wages – and give manufacturers the flexibility to determine which skills and outcomes are most important to their long-term success. To ensure that these flexible apprenticeships provide high-quality training, each will be tied to a specific Industry Recognized Credential.”

Burkland noted that the USDOL opportunity came at the perfect time for Ohio manufacturers. “For the last two years, we have been building a system of regional Industry Sector Partnerships to foster collaboration and resource sharing among manufacturers and their education and workforce partners. It was this systems-level work that prepared us to submit a compelling proposal to the Department of Labor,” he said.

A key element of that system is Ohio TechNet, a consortium of Ohio’s community colleges and other post-secondary education institutions, launched in 2014 with a focus on accelerating the readiness of Ohio’s workforce for manufacturing careers.

“Leaders across Ohio’s institutions of higher education, including community colleges, universities, and Ohio Technical Centers, understand that we need new ways to partner with industry to ensure that our communities are ready for both the jobs of today and those of tomorrow,” said Ohio Department of Higher Education Chancellor Randy Gardner. “Scaling apprenticeships through this new investment will offer expanded opportunities for meeting talent needs of Ohio’s manufacturers.”

Marcia J. Ballinger, Ph.D., president of LCCC, which leads the Ohio TechNet consortium, affirmed the importance of new forms of industry-educational collaboration. “This is an opportunity to transform workforce development strategies to meet the needs of advanced manufacturers. We couldn’t be more pleased to have this opportunity to deepen our work with The Ohio Manufacturers’ Association through the Ohio Manufacturing Workforce Partnership to ensure Ohio remains a leader in manufacturing talent innovation. Scaling apprenticeships in new and different ways is an innovation that works by providing opportunities for employers to build a workforce to spec, provide blended earn and learn models for individuals and fosters redesign of programs at higher education institutions to reduce time and cost to earn a degree and credential.”

The stated goals of the USDOL’s initiative are to: (a) accelerate the expansion of apprenticeships to new industry sectors reliant on H-1B visas; (b) promote the large-scale expansion of apprenticeships; and (c) increase apprenticeship opportunities for all Americans.

“I applaud the Labor Department for awarding this grant to Lorain County Community College (LCCC) in partnership with NAM’s Manufacturing Skills Institute and the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association (OMA). I often hear from Ohio employers about their workforce challenges, and community colleges like LCCC play an important role in working with employers to create a workforce that meets the needs of today’s economy. We can build on this success by passing legislation I’ve introduced called the JOBS Act to help close the skills gap further by making students in shorter-term CTE programs eligible for federal Pell Grants. Working together, we can ensure that all Ohioans have the skills they need to fill the jobs of today and tomorrow,” said US Senator Rob Portman.

“When we talk about respecting the dignity of work, that has to mean making sure our students have the opportunity to pursue jobs that pay well, that are fulfilling, and where they can build careers that lead to middle-class life. By investing in programs like LCCC’s, we can introduce students to the many opportunities available to them, whether they choose to pursue additional workforce training or get a job. I’m glad to join Senator Portman to support this effort,” said US Senator Sherrod Brown.

OMWP’s project will focus on career pathways in advanced manufacturing with an eye toward technological advances, including Industry 4.0 and cybersecurity. To date, the partnership has secured commitments from Ohio manufacturers to train 2,315 apprentices. OMA and its industry sector partnership network will be conducting outreach and education to bring industry-recognized apprenticeship opportunities to additional Ohio manufacturers while OTN continues to develop innovative and accelerated training models at community colleges, universities, and Ohio Technical Centers.

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