Pat Tiberi in the Toledo Blade: Ohio needs to tailor workforce to future jobs

A decade ago, Ohio was in the throes of the Great Recession with hundreds of thousands of lost jobs, factories and businesses shuttered, Ohioans leaving in search of jobs elsewhere, and a feeling of hopelessness for countless Ohio families.

Today, Ohio’s economy is strong and getting stronger. Our unemployment rate of 4 percent is the lowest in more than 17 years. Wages are rising at a rate faster than the nation’s, the labor force is growing, and Ohio has more jobs than ever. According to OhioMeansJobs.com, today Ohio has more than 164,000 job openings.

Much of the credit for the turnaround should be given to former Gov. John Kasich and legislative leaders who focused on improving Ohio’s business climate and creating jobs. Under Mr. Kasich, Ohio cut taxes, eliminated burdensome regulations, and modernized economic development through JobsOhio, Ohio’s private, not-for-profit entity focused solely and aggressively on creating jobs.

Our economic momentum continues. Last month, Gov. Mike DeWine signed a biennial budget which builds upon the economic improvements by keeping our business climate strong and preparing Ohio for the economy of the future. Mr. DeWine has tasked Lt. Gov. Jon Husted with leading the state’s economic development efforts and ensuring that Ohio’s job creators have an abundant, skilled work force.

For the past year and a half, I have served as president and CEO of the Ohio Business Roundtable, a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization composed of the CEOs of Ohio’s biggest and most successful businesses and focused on economic development. For Roundtable members, work force has become a top priority as employers are having trouble filling jobs. Ohio must improve its work force-development system.

Many ingredients go into creating a hospitable business climate: the tax structure, regulatory scheme, infrastructure, and location are all key. However, an abundant, talented work force can make the difference for CEOs deciding whether to locate or expand businesses here or relocate to another state. Work force can be Ohio’s competitive advantage.

Ohio has a long, proud history of an industrious and productive work force. But in recent years, skills have become outdated and misaligned as technologies have evolved. As a result, Ohio employers cannot fill job openings and the state has fallen behind in preparing its labor force for tomorrow’s jobs. This challenge is accelerating. Amid emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, advanced manufacturing, and blockchain, economists suggest that 65 percent of students entering first grade this year will one day hold jobs that don’t exist now.

To improve career readiness for high school students, the budget dramatically expands the career credential program for in-demand jobs to ensure that every high school graduate is either college or career-ready. The state budget will provide microdegrees to 10,000 workers to help them reskill and advance. The budget expands industry-sector partnerships in which businesses, education providers, and community leaders collaborate to ensure that schools are equipping students with skills for the jobs that are out there. The budget fosters a climate of technology through the creation of InnovateOhio. Led by Mr. Husted, InnovateOhio will work to expand and support Ohio’s tech climate to the benefit of businesses and entrepreneurs.

Ohio has come a long way, but now is not the time to slow down. This budget will help ensure that students find jobs awaiting them upon graduation, and that employers have the workers they need to succeed in Ohio, improving the quality of life for us all.

Patrick J. Tiberi
President and CEO, Ohio Business Roundtable
Columbus

Read online here.

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