Workforce Programming Success Through Partnership
Henry County CIC.
The dialogue and challenges regarding available workforce and related training are an ongoing discussion across Ohio, as is the case across much of the U.S., especially in the manufacturing industry. Economic developers often see the frustration of manufacturing C-Suite leaders when there are no solid tools to offer. Subsequently, Henry County CIC in northwest Ohio is pro-actively tackling the workforce challenge through collaboration and partnerships, building and modeling programming based in State and Federal policy currently being shaped.
After evaluating numerous workforce development models, consideration was given to incorporating impactful programming. According to Denise Dahl, Henry County CIC Executive Director, it is possible to create meaningful programming while remaining realistic regarding available staff time and organizational funding.
“Many economic development organizations face the same ‘limited depth of bench’ in being able to pull the trigger on developing the necessary clearinghouse dynamic to facilitate workforce development and liaison with area manufacturers and businesses,” Dahl said.
To maximize resource development, while minimizing the ‘re-creation of the wheel’ time investment, Henry County CIC board member, and Liberty Center school board member, Jeff Benson helped facilitate progress by connecting the CIC with successful program pieces in various parts of Ohio.
A connection to Director of Strategic Innovation, Julie Ramos, of Wickliffe City Schools is one of the connections CIC board member Benson recommended, and the connection helped propel Henry County workforce program forward, faster, through Ramos’s generous sharing the program pieces which were already in place. By combining a school-based approach with an economic development driven piece, a full and thorough program piece was developed within a few months.
To further engage Henry County stakeholders in the workforce programming template the CIC hosted a lunch with guidance counselors from each school in Henry County, reached out to several superintendents, included both the vocational school, Jobs & Family Services, the Office of Workforce Development Apprenticeship Service Provider, as well as the community college, among others throughout the development process.
The new workforce development push will begin late summer 2017, and is being funded by a combination of chamber funding, manufacturer contributions, as well as other sources. The CIC will act as the clearinghouse and facilitator of engagement in high schools, and hands on experiences in workplaces.
A few years ago Henry County implemented a STEM workforce development piece for high school students which continues to succeed and grow. This new programming piece will involve a more varied approach to multiple career paths. At launch a focus will begin with manufacturing and as program pieces begin to solidify additional career tracks and training will be added.
Additionally, the goal of reaching out to those pre-high school populations remains, and will be pursued as available time and monetary resources continue to build. Due to staff time and monetary limitations at the beginning of the build out process priority access to programming and resources will be given first to those who are members of the Henry County CIC and to those who see value in investing in it. As the return on investment continues to grow for those participating in the community there is anticipation of eventually hiring staff to further grow the program.
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