Simply creating jobs is not always enough to improve the economy. There have to be qualified, educated workers ready to fill those positions, or else those jobs remain unfilled, and the applicants looking for work must continue looking. The Ohio House and other state agencies have remained committed to finding ways to prepare the workforce we need to fill the available jobs. With oil and natural gas drilling taking off in Southeast Ohio, the demand for capable, drug-free workers has never been greater. We want to fill these jobs with qualified Ohio workers, rather than be reduced to looking elsewhere.
The Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services (ODJFS) has made workforce development one of its central themes. Its website, jfs.ohio.gov, has abundant information for jobseekers and employers, as well as details on statewide initiatives like shale drilling and on-the-job training for any number of other industries. Ohio Means Jobs, a project of the Governor's Office of Workforce Transformation, is another great resource for those looking for work throughout Southeastern Ohio. Ohio Means Jobs can be accessed online at ohiomeansjobs.com/omj.
Ensuring that jobseekers are ready to fill available job openings seems sensible, but it is a subject that is often overlooked. Sometimes politicians overuse the phrase, "getting people back to work," as if it is simply a matter of moving people around to make sure all the jobs are covered. But as any coach will tell you, just because someone is skilled at playing second base doesn't mean he or she can play centerfield. Without a strong emphasis on workforce training, Ohio's eager workforce will be left behind.
Late last year, we in the Ohio House created the Workforce Development Task Force, which I was lucky to serve on. The Workforce Development Task Force held hearings across the state to gather testimony from those who best understand workforce development.
One of the most definitive findings of the committee was the urgent need to consolidate certain workforce development programs-which had grown over time to 77 distinct programs spread across 13 different state agencies-in order to eliminate services that are inefficient or obsolete. Furthermore, we needed to strengthen the collaboration between colleges and the business community, in order to ensure the relevancy of the training provided.
These are critical steps forward on the path to full employment for our workforce.
Rep. Thompson may be reached by calling (614) 644-8728, e-mailing District93@ohr.state.oh.us, or writing to State Rep. Andy Thompson, 77 South High St., Columbus, Ohio 43215.