By Marc Kovac
Gov. John Kasich convened a new panel Monday to develop recommendations for fine-tuning the state’s work-force training programs.
The Governor’s Executive Workforce Board includes lawmakers, local government officials, educators and private business executives, who will work on what Kasich described as “an extremely vexing problem. ... We have job openings, and yet we don’t have the skilled people to fill them.”
Kasich has been talking about the issue since before he took office and has pushed to streamline current job-training programs. There are about 90 housed in different state offices, many of them unknown to the business community.
“People who are unemployed today are not people who don’t have good skills,” Kasich said. “They don’t know where to go, and employers don’t even know they’re there.”
Kasich also would like to expand job training to cover not just Ohioans who are unemployed but also to those who are currently employed.
The governor said his administration was preparing to launch a new voucher program, backed by casino receipts, to provide training funds to companies for current workers.
The new work-force board will focus on both of those areas, plus push for a better way to forecast future employment needs among Ohio businesses.
Kasich voiced frustration with the latter, saying companies have been unwilling to provide information to the state on projected job openings.
And that, the governor said, makes it challenging for two-year colleges and four-year universities to offer the types of degree programs that will prepare students for available positions.
“The fact of the matter is, when we ask people to tell us what they need, they won’t do it,” Kasich said. “If they won’t tell us what they need, then they’re not in a strong position to complain when they don’t have workers. Somehow, through a group like this, we’ve got to convince the businesses in Ohio that it’s safe to tell us what they need. And once we know what they need, we can begin to fashion this curriculum and these training programs to meet these goals.”