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Wednesday, Jun 19, 2019

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Ohio’s public universities seek to close attainment gap

‘Forward Ohio’ highlights higher education’s role in economy and society


Ohio University joins Ohio’s 14 public universities today in a statewide communication campaign designed to raise awareness of the value of public higher education and spur efforts to close the state’s increasingly alarming higher education attainment gap. To accomplish this goal, the effort, called Forward Ohio, seeks to mobilize public support for enhanced investment in public higher education and ensure that it is a public policy imperative for state government.

“With a well-documented ‘talent gap’ in the State of Ohio that is nearing crisis status, a significant challenge exists for institutions of higher learning, as does the opportunity to drive change,” says Ohio University President M. Duane Nellis. “Attracting and retaining jobs is the key to Ohio’s economic future and hinges to a large degree on the educational attainment levels of our citizens. Ohio University is working to ensure its graduates are well matched to current and future job creation trends."

Studies indicate that about 66 percent of jobs in Ohio in 2025 will require postsecondary certificates or above. Currently, just 44 percent of working age Ohioans have these credentials. Given the fact that Ohio public universities produce the majority of skilled workers in the state, maintaining a strong system of public higher education is essential to closing this gap and meeting the economic and workforce needs of our business community.

Just this past year, OHIO made an investment to provide OHIO students with free, hands-on technology training that will prepare them to fill critical gaps in the state’s workforce. Additionally, our newly-created faculty learning communities ensure our graduates emerge as global citizens who are prepared to investigate the world, weigh perspectives, interact with diverse audiences, and take action.

Forward Ohio’s information portal illustrates how all of Ohio’s public universities are addressing the attainment gap and providing significant value to the state. It also provides evidence on the critical need for more skilled workers and how enhanced state investment and policy reforms can further assist public universities in closing the attainment gap. Furthermore, it provides opportunities for citizens to advocate for enhanced governmental support of higher education.

“According to a recent poll, 85 percent of Ohioans agree that a four-year degree from a public university in Ohio prepares students for a good job in today’s economy,” adds Dr. Nellis. “I urge this large majority of citizens to stand with me and my fellow public university presidents to advocate for a strong and productive system of public higher education in Ohio, for the benefit of our students, our economy and our state as a whole.”