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Friday, Dec 19, 2014

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Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis is touring the state this month to discuss the recently released economic impact assessment.

Photo courtesy of: University Communications and Marketing

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Ohio University Southern partners with the Ohio Strategic Training Center on workforce development initiatives.

Photo courtesy of: University Communications and Marketing

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Executive Dean for Regional Higher Education Bill Willan

Photo courtesy of: University Communications and Marketing

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OHIO’s Impact: Aiding in workforce development through a solid partnership


Note: Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis is touring the state during the month of February to discuss the findings of a recently released economic impact report. Today and tomorrow, McDavis is visiting with media and representatives from several Ohio University regional campuses. This story is one such example of the ways in which Ohio University’s impact can be seen and felt throughout the region and the state.

The ability to look to the future and forecast the types of jobs that will be needed in Southeastern Ohio may seem like a challenge that requires a crystal ball, but thanks to a study in progress by the Ohio Strategic Training Center (OSTC), that task will be rooted within facts and solid evidence.

The Ohio Strategic Training Center, established in August of 2012 and located in South Point, Ohio, is the collaborative effort of several partnering agencies and training organizations. Ohio University Southern can be counted among those groups. OSTC Executive Director Scott Howard says Ohio University Southern is a big part of the 18-month-old center’s success so far.

“They’re a great partner. We talk on a regular basis about collaborative opportunities whereby we can more effectively meet regional needs by creating programs that lead to jobs. They’re one of the regional campuses that was involved with making the decision to conduct the 20-county job forecasting study,” Howard said.

The job forecasting study serves as an employment needs assessment, explains Howard. An analysis of data from Moody’s Analytics will provide insight into what occupations are needed in the future. While Ohio University Southern is heavily involved, the assessment will actually impact all of the University’s regional campuses. ­

The study, funded in part by a Local Government Innovation Fund grant, will be conducted in two parts. First, the OSTC will identify “industry economic drivers.” These drivers are companies that have experienced growth in a way that indicates they will continue to grow even more in the future and will need additional labor to support such growth. Once those drivers are identified, Howard says, then the OSTC will prepare a report detailing the jobs and skill sets which will be needed in the areas surrounding each of Ohio University’s regional campuses. The campuses and counties included in the study are:

Ohio University Chillicothe – Ross, Pickaway, Pike and Vinton counties
Ohio University Eastern – Belmont, Jefferson, Monroe and Harrison counties
Ohio University Lancaster – Fairfield, Franklin, Hocking and Licking counties
Ohio University Southern – Gallia, Jackson, Lawrence and Scioto counties
Ohio University Zanesville – Muskingum, Guernsey, Noble and Perry counties

“We’re in the business of designing and delivering training programs that help people gain the skill set that they need to become employed,” Howard said of the OSTC. Partnering with Ohio University Regional Higher Education on the jobs study is a natural collaboration, explained Howard.

“We didn’t know it when we wrote the grant, but this is a perfect fit,” he said.
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Ohio University Executive Dean for Regional Higher Education Bill Willan says the study’s findings will be beneficial to the regional campuses for years to come.

"The regional campus deans had been discussing ways of anticipating academic programs that our communities might need when Scott approached us about partnering on the jobs forecasting study that was made possible by the grant the OSTC had been awarded,” Willan said. “The timing could not have been better. ­As a result of this initiative and thanks to the partnership, the regional campuses will be in better position to make programming decisions over the next several years."

When the forecasting study is completed, the OSTC will present the findings to 15 panels of business leaders and experts in each of the regional campus locations with each campus hosting 3 panel presentations. The panelists will offer the OSTC feedback. From there, Howard says he hopes to work with the regional campuses to align courses, certificate offerings and degree programs to produce the workforce occupations needed for that particular area.

“So then, we’re training people to be employed by the industry that is telling us what they need,” said Howard. ­

The OSTC’s impact on the region’s economy, with help from their partnership with Ohio University Southern, is already evident as an effort is underway to address a shortage of welders in the region and state. The OSTC is partnering with Ohio University Southern and Lorain County Community College to bring a customized training program to the center, including a two-year associate degree in welding technology. Ohio University Southern will support the welder program by offering the necessary academic classes for the degree. Designs are in place to construct training facilities in large shipping containers, making it possible to take the welding training to different locations that fit demands. ­

Additionally, Howard says the OSTC is in conversation with Ohio University Southern Electronic Media Director Don Moore about producing a documentary highlighting the state of the welding industry in our region; focusing on the growing need for qualified welders, the potential gap between employer needs and the available supply of qualified welders, as well as the different types of careers that are available in the welding industry.

The welding program is expected to be under way in the spring of this year, and Howard hopes the jobs forecasting study will be ready to share with regional panels in less than two months.

“Overall, there is an exciting year ahead for the OSTC and for Southeastern Ohio’s economy, thanks in great part to the solid partnership with Ohio University Regional Higher Education and Ohio University Southern,” Howard said.

This story is just one of many that can be found in the Ohio University Economic Impact Assessment at http://www.ohio.edu/impact. Visit the website for additional information about the impact assessment and to view a full, PDF version of the report.

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