Ohio Manufacturing Workforce Partnership awarded $12 Million Department of Labor grant to scale manufacturing apprenticeships | Automation.com

Ohio Manufacturing Workforce Partnership awarded $12 Million Department of Labor grant to scale manufacturing apprenticeships

Ohio Manufacturing Workforce Partnership awarded $12 Million Department of Labor grant to scale manufacturing apprenticeships

June 25, 2019 -- The U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) announced the recipients of its Scaling Apprenticeship Through Sector-Based Strategies grant. The grant includes a $12 million award to Ohio's Lorain County Community College (LCCC), an applicant in collaboration with Ohio TechNet (OTN) and The Ohio Manufacturers' Association (OMA), collectively known as the Ohio Manufacturing Workforce Partnership (OMWP).

The funding will play a vital role in helping Ohio address the workforce shortage and skills gap affecting manufacturing, as manufacturers across the state have repeatedly cited workforce as their top issue of concern. With the grant funds, OMWP will upskill 5,000 Ohioans over the next four years through Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Programs (IRAP), an earn-and-learn model recently authorized by the USDOL.

"Ohio manufacturers understand that it's time to change the way we develop talent," said OMA President Eric L. Burkland. "Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Programs take the best of traditional, registered apprenticeship – structured on-the-job training, with related classroom instruction, and regularly increasing wages – and give manufacturers the flexibility to determine which skills and outcomes are most important to their long-term success. To ensure that these flexible apprenticeships provide high-quality training, each will be tied to a specific Industry Recognized Credential."

Burkland noted that the USDOL opportunity came at the perfect time for Ohio manufacturers. "For the last two years, we have been building a system of regional Industry Sector Partnerships to foster collaboration and resource sharing among manufacturers and their education and workforce partners. It was this systems-level work that prepared us to submit a compelling proposal to the Department of Labor," he said.

A key element of that system is Ohio TechNet, a consortium of Ohio's community colleges and other post-secondary education institutions, launched in 2014 with a focus on accelerating the readiness of Ohio's workforce for manufacturing careers.

"Leaders across Ohio's institutions of higher education, including community colleges, universities, and Ohio Technical Centers, understand that we need new ways to partner with industry to ensure that our communities are ready for both the jobs of today and those of tomorrow," said Ohio Department of Higher Education Chancellor Randy Gardner. "Scaling apprenticeships through this new investment will offer expanded opportunities for meeting talent needs of Ohio's manufacturers."

Marcia J. Ballinger, Ph.D., president of LCCC which leads the Ohio TechNet consortium, affirmed the importance of new forms of industry-educational collaboration. "This is an opportunity to transform workforce development strategies to meet the needs of advanced manufacturers. We couldn't be more pleased to have this opportunity to deepen our work with The Ohio Manufacturers' Association through the Ohio Manufacturing Workforce Partnership to ensure Ohio remains a leader in manufacturing talent innovation. Scaling apprenticeships in new and different ways is an innovation that works by providing opportunities for employers to build a workforce to spec, provide blended earn and learn models for individuals and fosters redesign of programs at higher education institutions to reduce time and cost to earn a degree and credential."

The stated goals of the USDOL's initiative are to: (a) accelerate the expansion of apprenticeships to new industry sectors reliant on H-1B visas; (b) promote the large-scale expansion of apprenticeships; and (c) increase apprenticeship opportunities for all Americans.

OMWP's project will focus on career pathways in advanced manufacturing with an eye toward technological advances, including Industry 4.0 and cybersecurity. To date, the partnership has secured commitments from Ohio manufacturers to train 2,315 apprentices. OMA and its industry sector partnership network will be conducting outreach and education to bring industry-recognized apprenticeship opportunities to additional Ohio manufacturers while OTN continues to develop innovative and accelerated training models at community colleges, universities and Ohio Technical Centers.

National partners that are part of OMWP include the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Institute of Metalworking Skills, the American Welding Society, and Jobs For the Future. 

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