LIMA — “Putting workers first.”
That idea — refocusing economic development efforts on workforce instead of business needs — is the foundation of a set of policy proposals rolled out by Betty Sutton, running mate of Democrat gubernatorial candidate Richard Cordray during her Monday night visit to UA Local 776 Plumbers and Pipefitters Hall.
Dubbed the “Better Skills, Better Jobs” workforce development plan by Cordray’s campaign, the recently released set of goals aims to fill the estimated 2 million job openings Ohio is set to have by 2025.
“Rather than focusing on that sort of top-down approach, only worrying about giving those sort of non-transparent incentives, we’re going to focus on putting workers first,” Sutton said. “If we invest in empowering our workforce with the training and skills that will allow them to excel, not only today but tomorrow, we will all be benefiting.”
Policy associated with the plan includes investing $50 million of federal funds from the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act to support training programs and apprenticeships, expand the Office of Opportunities for New Americans, adopt skills-based hiring practices for the state of Ohio, remove business-imposed barriers to employment, such as non-compete clauses, and organize most of that work under the Office of Workforce Transformation.
Sutton said the state currently has 14 agencies involved in workforce development, and a single department would result in a more streamlined office.
Another foundational principle of the plan is to encourage workers to pursue opportunities and pathways to middle class careers that don’t involve college education. Sutton clarified that the move doesn’t mean that college is not useful, but rather that the state of Ohio should help create and expand secondary training options, such as community colleges, training centers and apprenticeships, that still result in a job with a decent wage.
Although the plan is focused on the worker, Sutton said the small business owner won’t be ignored. The policy plan includes appointing a “Small Business Chief” in the governor’s administration, who will support small business practices.
“We do believe very much that most people want to work and they want to take care of themselves and have the dignity of doing the work,” Sutton said. “Ohioans deserve access to all the training and skills necessary in the modern economy.”
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.