Ohio University

Workforce Success Initiative announces first round of projects

Workforce Success Initiative announces first round of projects

New initiatives to improve workforce opportunities in the Appalachian region have been made possible thanks to a new project spearheaded by the Executive Dean for OHIO Regional Higher Education (RHE).

Nicole Pennington, RHE Executive Dean and Dean of Campus and Community Relations at OHIO Southern, recently developed the RHE Workforce Success Initiative in an effort to enhance workforce development activity in southeast Ohio and surrounding areas served by RHE.

“We have joined together with a shared objective, to serve the greater communities of the regional campuses through enriched and enhanced workforce development activity,” said Dean Pennington. “Learning is a life-long journey. As the higher education partner in the region, we are committed to providing the skill development content and instruction our local employers want and need for their workforce.”

Laurie Lach, Director of Regional Campus Development and Alumni Engagement, agreed that campus and community relationships are vital for continued growth in the region.

“The collaboration between business and education leaders for workforce success demonstrates the mutual goal to improve an individual's potential in the workplace while creating tangible benefits for businesses,” Lach said.

The pilot program was able to fund six projects for the 2020-2021 year. Those projects, submitted by RHE faculty and staff, were competitively awarded based on the review and recommendations of the RHE Workforce Success Initiative Review Committee.

“These projects all help fulfill OHIO’s mission to prepare our workforce for the challenges ahead,” Ohio University President M. Duane Nellis said. “By taking part in these programs, professionals in these fields are taking the necessary steps to maintain their education and their ability to continue to succeed.”

The projects include:

•    Women in Technology and Science (WITS) Day, Pamela Kaylor, Ph.D. and Jacqueline Tudor, Ph.D., Ohio University Lancaster: The WITS Day program targets the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics employment sector and seeks to engage students in grades 6-12 in a one-day, hands-on program led by female STEM professionals.

•    Rural Teacher Fellowship, Jacqueline Yahn, Ed.D., Ohio University Eastern: This fellowship is designed for early-career teachers employed in rural school districts located within the service regions of OHIO’s five regional campuses who are interested in implementing community- and career-connected learning in their classrooms and school districts. Fellows will be paired with a mentor (also from a rural school) with extensive experience in this form of teaching and learning. The pilot year of the fellowship will take place in the Eastern campus service area and be conducted in partnership with Building Bridges to Careers, who will assist in matching fellows with mentors. Mentors will be recruited from the Building Bridges to Careers’ network of teacher liaisons and partnered with fellows to guide the fellow in their identified focus areas of community- and career-connected learning.

•    Southern Ohio Public Safety Workforce Development Training, Dr. James R. McKean, Ohio University Chillicothe: Against this landscape of deteriorating confidence in our nations’ public safety organizations, the goal of this project is to initiate a model of public safety workforce development training utilizing available instructional resources from Ohio University Chillicothe to meet the needs of local law enforcement officers in our service region.

•    Health Services College and Career Fair, Diann Nickerson, Lisa Jeffries, and Jay Morris, Ohio University Eastern: Ohio University Eastern plans to host 500 high school students from six counties at the Health Sciences College and Career Fair. The objectives of the event are to enhance prospective student awareness of health care programs of study on the OHIO Eastern Campus, provide information about the importance of internships for students’ educational experience as well as to fuel growth for workforce development, and to develop a pipeline for the local healthcare workforce to tap into for internships, networking, and potential employees.

•    Telework 101: A Virtual Course on How to Thrive Remotely, Eric Doyle Brown, Ohio University Southern: This project seeks to introduce workers and community members to the fundamentals of working remotely. Throughout this virtual course, participants will establish a positive relationship with technology and telework literacy while also developing self-reliance and critical thinking skills. Overall, the course is designed for those individuals who have struggled to maintain their productivity, creativity, and personal times as they continue to work away from a traditional office setting. Participants will meet on a variety of online platforms, including but not limited to Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet.

•    OAE Teacher Certification Testing Preparation, Dr. Martha Evans, Ohio University Southern: This workshop was developed to benefit education students when taking the Ohio Department of Education certification test. Goals for this project include increasing the first-time pass rate for seniors taking the certification exam, decreasing test anxiety and providing support for future educators as they become new teachers.

More information on these projects and workshops will be forthcoming.

Continued funding for future RHE Workforce Success Initiative projects has already been kickstarted by Dean Pennington and other donor-based funding. Any funds donated will be used for consumable supplies, stipends and equipment required to complete workforce initiative projects at each regional campus.

Businesses interested in supporting the Workforce Success Initiative should contact Laurie Lach, Director of Regional Campus Development and Engagement, at lach@ohio.edu.