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State Unveils Upgraded Jobs Website To Link Ohio Employers With Skilled Workers

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Thursday, December 15, 2016

State officials on Thursday launched a new online workforce supply data tool they hope will help employers better connect with skilled applicants across Ohio.

The new website, part of the OhioMeansJobs suite of online tools for workers and employers, allows companies to gather data on available workers by region and graduating institutions.

The new offering was unveiled at the Board of Regents headquarters in Columbus, where leaders of the departments of Higher Education and Job & Family Services, the Governor's Office of Workforce Transformation and lawmakers discussed the importance of the various state entities collaborating on jobs issues.

An Ohio State University team including Kristin Harlow, a research associate, and Josh Hawley, director of the Ohio Education Research Center, walked officials through the site. Among the data sets available to guide employer search efforts in 23 "in demand" occupations are the number of employed, earnings, unemployment claims and total graduates by institution and job type.

Chancellor John Carey said the project meshes well with the governor's agenda of aligning higher education with the workforce.

"It's great to have all the state partners working together and all the teams coming together for this success," he said. "We need to close the gap on skills and also increase the number of degrees and credentials that we have."

Workforce Transformation Director Ryan Burgess and Sen. Bill Beagle (R-Tipp City) said the site will help fill a key need among employers by providing another contact tool with appropriately trained workers.

"We think the number one need across the state for business owners is workforce, or finding the talent they need to grow and prosper," Mr. Burgess said.

"It's also a collaborative effort with multiple state agencies - that doesn't always happen every day," he added.

ODJFS Assistant Director Bruce Madson said the tool will work well with OhioMeansJobs as "a pipeline of workers for Ohio employers."

"We want to provide workers with the skills employers need, who have been trained at local colleges and we feel that the individuals who are connected to businesses through this process will snatch the opportunity to hold a good-paying, in-demand job to support themselves and their families," he said.

Mr. Carey said the tool will also help students.

"It gives them hope. It gives them a vision of where they can go," he said. "They know that if they do pursue certificates and these pathways that they will be able to get a job and be successful."

Sen. Beagle, a Workforce Board member, said it became clear to him years ago that there was a "disconnect" between businesses and workers with the skills they need. The board has discussed the state's role in providing data to fill that gap, he said.

Businesses, he said, will be excited the state is offering a tool "that's convenient and easy to use."

Rep. Bill Reineke (R-Fremont) said workforce development is a top issue facing the state.

In the works for several months (See Gongwer Ohio Report, July 25, 2016), the initiative was funded through a $180,000 grant from the National Skills Coalition's State Workforce and Education Alignment Project, which is also working with California, Mississippi, Ohio, and Rhode Island. The grant money was supplied by the JP Morgan Chase Foundation and USA Funds.

SWEAP grant administrator Bryan Wilson said the National Skills Coalition advocates for state and federal policies that increase the skills of America's workforce.

"In Ohio and every state, businesses report they are unable to find skilled workers to fill available job openings," he said. In Ohio, the group estimates that "middle-skill" jobs that require some form of post-high school education but not a bachelor's degree account for 56% of the state's labor market, but only 48% of the workers are trained to that level.

"Closing the skill gap will help employers compete and prosper and enable individuals to achieve higher standards of living," he said.

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