One of the goals of Greater Lima Region Inc. is to increase regional employment by 22,000 jobs in six years and to be able to provide a qualified regional work force to fill those jobs.
As the president of the University of Northwestern Ohio, I can tell you the future employees of our region are already here: learning, working and training at UNOH.
The work force needed in today’s economy must be skilled in both technical and soft skills. Gone are the days where companies are looking for mechanics who simply know how to turn a wrench. Employers want to hire skilled personnel, technicians, and trades people who are not only well-versed in their field of study, but who also have soft skills including communication, writing, analytical ability, team building and leadership.
The University of Northwestern Ohio prides itself on providing the nearly 4,500 students who attend classes each year either on-campus or online the opportunity to become well-versed in their program of choice, and improve their skills in problem solving, leadership, innovation, computer literacy and writing.
Every industry, from manufacturing to health care and everything in between, values a well-rounded employee.
Staying in region
Training the work force is one thing, but attracting them to stay in the region and seek out employment opportunities locally is another hurdle that we board members of GLR Inc are hoping to solve. One way to remedy this is to encourage partnerships between business and industry. An example of such a partnership is the development of the Robotics and Automation program at UNOH.
The regional manufacturing industry was in desperate need of electromechanical technicians to repair, program and maintain robotic systems in a variety of industries. Technicians needed the ability to diagnose and quickly troubleshoot problems to maintain production flow. Regional employers like KMI and Honda came to UNOH and asked us to develop a special degree program designed to fill this need and eliminate the skills gap they faced with current employees. After more than a year of development, the Robotics and Automation program was launched.
Now, two years in, the program enrollment has grown from 18 students to a current enrollment of more than 120 students. Graduates of the two-year program often find themselves entertaining multiple job offers in the greater Lima region with an average wage topping $50,000 per year. These are the types of partnerships that ensure local graduates are meeting the expectations of local employers.
At UNOH, it is our mission to prepare students for careers and productive citizenship that encompass the business, professional, corporate, and technological communities by providing quality education and training in response to the needs and aspirations of our constituents. As an institution of higher education, UNOH administration regularly evaluate labor market data to assess the region’s needs. From there, academic officials communicate with local employers on the ground to validate those needs.
If universities and colleges can continue to have an open dialog with industry leaders we can, together, create a seamless path from student, to employee, to mentor for the next generation.
Parents should ask
Educating skilled employees to fill the forecasted work force shortage of 22,000 workers by 2024 doesn’t start at the college admissions office — it starts at home, at your dinner table, long before the college application process begins. Parents, look at the job market today and ask:
• What skills are in demand?
• How much do they pay?
• What skills and education do they require?
• Is it a 4-year programmatic degree or a 2-year technically-focused degree?
• Does this career open the door to multiple opportunities or is it a dead end?
Instead of relying on stereotypes, gut instincts or personal opinion, do some research before making a decision about where your child should complete their education or what career field they should enter. As a lifelong resident, I know in my heart the Greater Lima Region is an amazing place to raise a family and there are thousands of jobs currently available with high income potential as long as you have the skills required. These skills can be obtained at many of the region’s colleges or universities.
At the University of Northwestern Ohio, we’ve been educating business professionals for nearly 100 years. We’ve been training the skilled work force of tomorrow in the technical industry for nearly 50 years. UNOH has taught students and graduates from all 50 states and 61 countries. Currently we have students from 43 states and 49 countries on campus.
Nearly 90 percent of our graduates are employed or furthering their education within six months of graduation. Many of these students choose to make the Greater Lima Region their home after graduation.
With majors ranging from Medical Office Management to Forensic Accounting; Sport Marketing and Management and Health Information Technology to Network Security; Business Administration to Agribusiness Management; and Robotics and Automation to Automotive, Diesel and High Performance Motorsports Technology, we are creating the skilled work force of tomorrow.
It is our hope, through the efforts of GLR Inc and partnerships within business, educational institutions, and industry employers, the students being trained at UNOH will become the skilled work force and leaders of the next generation of west central Ohio residents.
Dr. Jeffrey A. Jarvis is president of the University of Northwestern Ohio and a board member of the Greater Lima Region, Inc.