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State panels ideas aimed at preparing students for jobs

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By The Columbus Dispatch  •  Wednesday December 14, 2016 9:27 AM
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Ohio Gov. John Kasich appointed a panel composed of legislators, business leaders, labor leaders, educators and others to examine ways to make students better prepared to enter the workforce.

Business leaders could one day serve on local school boards in a nonvoting capacity. More internships and apprentice programs would help students learn about — and prepare for — careers. Teachers would have opportunities to spend time in the workplace to learn more about what their students need to know to be successful in the workplace.

The ideas were among proposals released Tuesday by Gov. John Kasich’s Executive Workforce Board. The recommendations are meant to address, among other things, longstanding employer complaints that they can’t find people with the right skill set to fill jobs.

“Every single one of these things is a good idea. Every one can be achieved,” Kasich told the 28-member board.

Kasich told the group that it is vital to begin immediately implementing the plan.

“I don’t want this sitting on a shelf somewhere,” he said.

In September, Kasich gave the group — made up of legislators, business leaders, labor leaders, educators and others — 90 days to come up with a plan. The board worked with schools, colleges and universities, nonprofit organizations, labor groups and other workforce experts to make recommendations.

The result was a package of about 40 ideas aimed at everyone from children to adults.

“The recommendations are a start to build that culture of continuous learning that we need to have as the economy continues to change at the pace that it is,” said Ryan Burgess, the board’s director.

Some recommendations can be put in place right away, some will become part of Kasich’s budget proposal that will be introduced next month, and some will require regulatory action.

Among the ideas is to find ways to better connect a school district’s curriculum with the skills needed to be successful in the workplace.

For example, local chambers of commerce could work with groups including community colleges and local schools. Students as young as middle school could be linked with local businesses to learn more about career opportunities.

One recommendation is for local school boards to appoint three nonvoting members to represent local business interests and for school officials to get involved in local business groups. The report suggests teachers could get credits as part of their license renewals for externships so that they could gain a better understanding of business needs.

In addition, it is envisioned that each year there would be a one-week statewide program to raise awareness among educators, students and parents and help middle and high school students learn about jobs that are in demand.

Libraries would play a significant role in the effort. They would be rebranded as “continuous learning centers” that could serve as hubs for information and about local in-demand jobs and education and training resources.



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