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Manufacturing Workforce Solutions

Friday, October 4, 2019 by John Rizzo

On Tuesday, October 1st, 2019 at GOJO Industries, the Greater Akron Chamber facilitated a conversation with elected officials, business leaders, educators and community stakeholders on manufacturing workforce solutions. As part of the rust belt, the Greater Akron region’s incumbent workforce and existing skills training strategies have struggled to adapt to the evolving needs of the manufacturing industry. Whether it’s a lack of technical training, attendance, addiction or awareness, there are multiple ways in which stakeholders are working to fill these in-demand jobs.

Panelists included leaders such as Congressman Anthony Gonzalez (OH-16) and former congressman Pat Tiberi, CEO of the Ohio Business Roundtable, who used their unique perspectives in government and business to spark an insightful conversation with regional partners on various workforce strategies being undertaken from different perspectives and industries. Among the topics discussed were legislative initiatives, governmental funding opportunities, public/private collaboratives, evolving needs of the industry and how strategies are adapting to address them.
A topic of conversation from the event which stands to have significant impacts on the Elevate Greater Akron work is Congressman Gonzalez’s JOBS Act. This legislation would expand the use of Pell Grants to cover short-term training programs, positioning those seeking mid-level technology certifications and other industry-recognized credentials for success. As such, the passage of this legislation is something the Chamber and its partners are wholeheartedly supportive of, as it would be a critical tool in advancing the reign’s workforce development capabilities and would support and align with other governmental funding opportunities in this space.

One such area of alignment can be found within the recently passed state operating budget, where we saw a plethora of workforce related programs funded, created, or otherwise bolstered. Of these programs, there are several which directly benefit the manufacturing sector including:
  • The TechCred Program, which creates industry-recognized credentials and provides funding support for obtaining them.
  • The Manufacturing Mentorship Program, which provides regulatory safety and financial assistance for businesses who accept apprentices
  • Funding for industry sector partnerships, which provides discretionary dollars for regional efforts to convene stakeholders and collaboratively pursue workforce solutions to fill in-demand jobs.
However, these programs are often found to be underutilized, and so, regional workforce partners over the last several years have taken a more direct approach to connecting businesses and employees to governmental funding opportunities and best practices.
The work that organizations like ConxusNEO and MAGNET are doing to build talent pipelines in Northeast Ohio have gained serious momentum and this, in-part, has led to greater realization and utilization of both state and federal funding opportunities and support resources. As organizations like this continue building cohesive ecosystems in which stakeholders can interact, the better chance our region stands in connecting students with the skills they need to fill in-demand jobs.
Overall, the Manufacturing Workforce Solutions discussion recognized the evolving workforce needs of the manufacturing sector and discussed the various ways in which stakeholders are addressing them from their respective roles. In the end, we realized that much of this work is already happening and in order to capitalize on existing momentum, we all must continue to collaboratively work on these issues together.
Posted: Friday, October 4, 2019 by John Rizzo | with 0 comments

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