Area 17, Mahoning and Columbiana Counties (includes Youngstown).
Ohio currently has an unemployment rate of 10.3%; in July, unemployment in Ohio’s counties ranged from a low of 7.1% to a high of 16.7%. Many of the jobs lost in this recession were held by older workers who are nearing retirement age and who lack many of the skills, such as technical and computer skills, needed to transition to a new career. Changes in manufacturing and business have resulted in fewer entry-level jobs and many of the entry-level jobs that do exist, do not pay wages that raise individuals and families above the poverty line. Many low-skilled jobs do not provide opportunities to advance in pay and skills.
The populations from Area 17 that Ohio hopes to focus on for the Pathways Out of Poverty Training Institute are: Experienced older workers who have lost jobs in declining industries, and people in generational poverty may have, and be surrounded by family and community members who have, intermittent work histories at best.
The purpose of the initiative is to “focus on strengthening training and educational opportunities for low-skilled adults.” Ohio has already done much to align the postsecondary education system and the needs of Ohio’s industry, with an emphasis on customizing training and education for the needs of the individual. This Institute provides the opportunity to help the workforce system meet individuals in difficult circumstances where they are and help them prepare for and obtain the training and education that will successfully move them onto a career pathway.
In healthcare, the Allied Health pathway is in place, the Nursing pathway is well underway, and a third pathway in Physical and Occupational Therapy is under development. Career pathways in Advanced Manufacturing, Chemicals, and Information Technology are in various stages of development.
Ohio has made a strong effort to resolve the mismatch between the skills people have and the skills that businesses need to grow and thrive by creating the Ohio Skills Bank (OSB). The Ohio Skills Bank is an initiative that is building a single, integrated adult education workforce system that is directly responsive to the needs of Ohio's employers. Although a state-wide system, the OSB is regionally-focused and works to align workforce demands of local industry with education and training through employer engagement, collaboration, deep data analysis, and communication.
Originally funded with WIA statewide money, the OSB is now an inter-agency collaboration between the Ohio Board of Regents (OBOR), the Ohio Department of Development (ODOD), and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) in addition to local Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs) and One-Stops. The OBOR is also the lead agency for another pertinent initiative, Ohio Shifting Gears, which has been funded by the Joyce Foundation. This initiative aims to increase the educational attainment and earnings potential of lower-income working adults by widening their access to postsecondary workforce education, shortening their paths to degrees or credentials, and speeding their progress with fewer interruptions.
Teresa Applegarth, Manager
Ohio Department of Job & Family Services Office of Workforce Development
4020 E. Fifth Avenue, Columbus, OH 43219