by MARC KOVAC | RPC CAPITAL BUREAU CHIEF Published: September 13, 2016 3:44 PM
Marysville, Ohio — Republican Gov. John Kasich asked a state panel to work with education officials to develop ideas to ensure Ohio’s primary and secondary school and colleges and universities are preparing students for future careers in the state.
The governor gave his Executive Workforce Board 90 days to come up with the recommendations, vowing to include reform measures in his biennial budget proposal early next year or implement them through executive orders or other means.
“If you think you can’t do it, then tell me, because I’ll find somebody else to do it,” Kasich told board members. “I’m not screwing around with these issues any longer, the issue of work force.”
He added, “We’re talking about human beings and their families and their income and their skills… If you have skills, you win. If you have no skills, you lose.”
Kasich has talked about such education and work force issues since he took office.
His Executive Workforce Board, which includes lawmakers, local government officials, educators and private business executives, was formed four years ago to consider training programs for Ohioans looking for jobs and those currently employed but needing to update their skills.
But the governor wants the board to shift its focus over the next few months to consider ways to better train students, starting in kindergarten and stretching through subsequent college or university degrees or technical school coursework, to be ready for increasingly high-tech jobs.
“We’re not going back 40 years,” Kasich said, referring to the types of manufacturing jobs that drove Ohio’s economy in decades past. “… We’re not making things the way we used to make things… America’s become a knowledge nation. We’re not making buggy whips anymore. Anyone that wants to make buggy whips, you’re in the wrong country.”
Those trends, he said, require a different approach to educating Ohio’s youngsters.
Too often, students graduate with college degrees, loaded down with student debt and having to be trained further when they are hired by companies.
“Do you think our current K-12 education system is preparing our young people for the jobs of today and jobs of tomorrow?” Kasich asked. “Is our education system giving our young people the resilience to understand that the future is not going to be like their mothers and fathers had?”
The state’s education and job training programs also should be better positioned to help adults who find themselves out of the job later in life, the governor said.
“You’ve got a lot of people that live in your area, in the Mahoning Valley, they’re out of work, they’re worried about their kids,” he said. “This is an area where we can give people skills on a regular basis. It’s no different than a great athlete: They have to constantly refurbish their skills. Skills mean jobs, and skills means pay.”
He added, “The whole system has to be moved — everything from high school to K-12 to the higher ed, the vocational, to post-education opportunities.”
Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau chief. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.