Written by Alex T. Boehnke, Director of Legislative & Corporate Affairs
The Council, along with fellow statewide business groups, has taken a keen interest in Ohio’s approach toward education. As businesses of all types and sizes struggle to find workers, we realize it is incumbent upon the business community to get involved and assist policymakers with efforts to ensure our students and adult learners are prepared to fill the jobs of today and tomorrow. Education issues will undoubtedly take centerstage as the state’s biennial budget process continues. In particular, school funding, school choice, early childhood along with an effort, Senate Bill 1, to overhaul the Ohio Department of Education by creating a new cabinet level position appointed by the Governor represent some of the most hotly debated topics. The Council will be looking to continue to focus advocacy efforts on a few key areas related to workforce development and readiness.
Industry-recognized credentials provide students with the necessary skills to fill Ohio’s most in-demand jobs. Earning these credentials gives students the confidence they need to succeed while also giving employers greater piece of mind that prospective workers will be ready to meet the demands of the job on day one. The Council will continue to advocate for the growth and expansion of industry-recognized credentials through programs like TechCred and increased funding and availability of retail-centric credentials like RISE Up, which are being taught to tens of thousands of students and adult learners. In fact, just this past summer the Council partnered with Dublin City Schools for a two-week RISE Up bootcamp for students. During the program, not only did students earn RISE Up credentials, but they also had the opportunity to tour retail operations at Kroger and Amazon and engage with company leadership. One the primary benefits of these credentials and certifications is that they don’t require an advanced degree. In addition, they are affordable for students to earn and in many instances the cost can be covered by employers. Growing the availability and accessibility of industry recognized credentials is crucial for the Buckeye state’s future and long-term economic competitiveness.
Work-based learning and career exposure are also keys to preparing and strengthening our workforce. More robust internships, tax credits for employers offering career experiences, and reducing regulatory barriers that can prevent students for participating in certain fields at a young age through proposals like Senate Bill 30, also provide examples of ways to strengthen work-based learning. The Council feels that increased engagement from the employer community on Business Advisory Councils across our state is another crucial piece toward addressing gaps in our workforce. Strong Business Advisory Councils provide a direct link between employers and school districts. Most importantly, they can help facilitate partnerships with key industries and employers in a given area while helping to coordinate educational attainment with workforce needs. For these reasons, the Council and fellow members of the business community recently partnered with the Ohio Department of Education to develop the Business-Education Leader Awards for Excellent Business Advisory Councils which recognizes high-performing Business Advisory Councils throughout the State of Ohio for their exceptional work building strong partnerships to instill professional skills for future careers and coordinating experiences for students. We are pleased that the Governor’s introduced budget contains incentives and support for high-performing Business Advisory Councils along with significant investments in workforce development.
As the 135th General Assembly convenes, the Council will work to prioritize the strengthening of Ohio’s workforce through aligning the needs of the employer community with educators and academic institutions. It is an honor to advocate on your behalf and we look forward to shared successes in 2023 and beyond.