Job Training Efforts

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

Job training and development can cover a lot of ground, whether programs are designed to enhance the skills of current employees, retrain displaced workers or boost new college graduates' work readiness.

Since the recession and ensuing slow recovery, job training programs have sprung from partnerships among educators, the business community and government officials.

The need for employees to fill available jobs requiring more specialized skills have factored into an evolving role for institutions such as Columbus State Community College. Aside from offering associate degrees and expanding partnerships and matriculation agreements with four-year colleges and universities, Columbus State offers specific training programs to help fill job needs identified by area employers. "We're supposed to be responsive to the market," says Cheryl Hay, workforce development director at Columbus State.

That responsiveness is evident in newer course and program offerings now available at the school-thanks to partnerships with local business leaders, Gov. John Kasich's JobsOhio program and federal efforts targeting job creation and employment for those who've lost their jobs and are looking for work, possibly in a new field.

Job training (or retraining) may involve a multiweek or year-long education program to earn certification in a specific skill set. Perhaps it's coupled with an internship or on-the-job training. Often, grant money is available. Many programs are open to ages 18 up to 65 or older.

Insurance Jobs

The push for training is especially evident in a partnership between insurance executives, the Ohio Department of Insurance and the Ohio Board of Regents. An extensive media campaign is planned for early 2013 to spread the word about the variety of jobs the insurance industry offers.

Why the aggressive effort? Ohio's insurance industry expects as many as 20,000 job openings by the end of the decade, due in large part to baby boomers retiring. Executives are concerned about a lack of training and college degree programs that teach skills their companies need. "We began looking at ways to grow resources and talent within the organization," says John Bishop, president and CEO of Motorists Insurance Group. "Not only is there a gap in the need for resources, but there is also a talent gap."

Columbus State soon will offer programs for certification and associate degrees in insurance-related fields. Bishop notes that a few Ohio universities recently have added-or soon will-insurance-related bachelor's degree programs as well.

Bishop points to the variety of jobs within insurance companies, from positions in sales and marketing or as independent agents to actuaries, underwriters, attorneys and information technology professionals. The industry, he says, hasn't done a good job of selling its employment opportunities. "One of our largest divisions is information technology," says Bishop. "You don't really need to know the workings of insurance for those positions."

Logistics Industry

Unemployment is a scary proposition for any worker. The challenge for a middle-aged employee who is suddenly without a job and weighing the leap to a new field can be even more daunting. Columbus State's Center for Workforce Development offers job training and skills development programs in several industries, including the logistics sector.

The LogisticsART (the ART stands for Attract and Retain Talent) program, funded through a $4.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, helps qualified applicants fill the demand for workers in this high-growth industry. "It's a retraining program to help people who have been laid off in other fields," says Michael Dalby, president and CEO of the Columbus Chamber.

The chamber estimates that between 2010 and 2013, 17,000 more workers will be sought to fill job demand in logistics-a field that employs nearly 8 percent of Ohio's workforce. "It's not just loading boxes," Dalby says. "You get in there and realize just how much technology is involved."

LogisticsART participants earn certificates for completing coursework and technical training at Columbus State and can earn national certification as well. Since Sept. 30, 798 people have graduated from the program.

Of those graduates:

  • 476 were unemployed for six months or more
  • 216 were dislocated for less than six months
  • 96 were employed but seeking additional skills training
  • 136 held bachelor's degrees
  • 29 held master's degrees
  • 269 were ages 45-54
  • 172 were ages 35-44

Other Areas

Hay says other popular job training programs include bioscience technology, which helps those who've completed certification programs secure jobs in chemical and food manufacturing, and IT. "Twenty-four businesses are working with us on a larger information technology training program that would go across skills for positions for web developers, database administrators, JAVA positions, those types of things," she says. "It's quite a win for both the dislocated worker and the business."

Job security seems to be on the minds of many workers these days, even if they haven't lost their jobs. Some are heading back to class to stay up-to-date or learn new skills.

"We are seeing a large population of people who already have their bachelor's degree and some who even have their master's who are coming back to community college to pick up a skill set," says Hay.

Meanwhile, job training is on the minds of employers. Though they may not be looking to fill new positions, they want current employees to stay educated. Even smaller undertakings such as workshops and seminars "are still really valuable," says Dalby, "particularly for mid-size growth companies who are looking for ways to gain that edge."

Debbie Briner is a freelance writer.

Reprinted from the February 2013 issue of Columbus C.E.O. Copyright © Columbus C.E.O.