LIMA — Legislation introduced by U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown will help dislocated workers train for high-tech jobs and combat a growing skills gap in Ohio.
The Ohio Democrat cited a Forbes report that ranks Ohio 10th with the biggest looming skilled-labor shortage in the country. It is anticipated that between 2008 and 2018, Ohio will create 967,000 job openings requiring postsecondary education or training.
“Clearly a skills gap exists especially for careers in the skilled trades and" information technology, Brown said during his weekly media conference call Wednesday. “This gap denies workers the new opportunities they deserve and undermines our country’s competitiveness.”
The Strengthening Employment Clusters to Organize Regional Success Act of 2013 would organize stakeholders connected to a regional industry, including business and labor leaders, education and training providers, and local workforce and education system administrators, to develop plans for growing that industry.
Employers are far too often, Brown said, having a hard time finding workers, especially in areas like health care, clean energy, biosciences and manufacturing.
The act would provide grants for sector partnerships among the stakeholders. These partnerships would create customized solutions for specific industries at the regional level. Brown said the “clusters” approach would tailor workforce development to the needs of regional, high growth industries, allowing more workers to receive placements and more businesses to be attracted to a region.
“It ensures workers have the right skills to be hired in high tech, good paying jobs,” he said. “If we are going to attract new employers we need to ensure that local workforce development efforts support the needs of local communities and local industries.”
Brown first introduced the bill in 2008. He said it has bipartisan support and believes it will be part of larger workforce investment or education bills.
Navy veteran Daniel Brewer, of Cincinnati, joined Brown on Wednesday’s media call. Brewer returned from the Navy in 2005 with little idea of his future or how his technical training from the military would translate back home. He entered a skills-to-work program at Cincinnati State Community College and now works for General Electric.
“I believe the legislation the senator is proposing will help other veterans who are returning to civilian life and need career direction and job security like they had when they were in the military,” he said.
The legislation is endorsed by the Corporation for Ohio Appalachian Development, National Skills Coalition, National Network of Sector Partners, Ohio Workforce Commission, Policy Matters Ohio, Towards Employment and United Way of Central Ohio.