Governor’s Workforce League has local connection

ROUSH

The newly-created Ohio Workforce League will have a local voice, with its members including Jesse Roush, executive director of Workforce Development and Corporate Partnerships at Washington State Community College. The group was created in response to Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s administration’s focus on workforce training in the state.

The workforce league will work with statewide organizations and leaders to address challenges and ways to help adults learn skills to compete in today’s economy.

Question: This is a new group, right?

Answer: Yes. We met for the first time in mid-May in Columbus and talked about our early mission statements and vision. We’re going to reconvene in work groups in August to continue that work.

Q: How did you come to be involved with the group?

A: Because workforce development has become such a dominant part of the conversation in the state…they decided the group needed workforce professionals. I’ve been in this position at Washington State for a little over a year.

Q: What are the main goals for you?

A: There’s a lot of great leadership that’s a part of this, so there’s a lot to be learned by being in the room with folks like that. We’re one of if not the smallest community college in Ohio. One has 47 people in their workforce department. So, it’s important to have some of the smaller colleges in the room. I’ve found that we don’t have all of the same problems the larger colleges do. They find themselves split between academics and what’s considered traditional workforce development and we really don’t have that. We’re an integrated team. The larger places don’t always get to have that.

There’s a lot going on in the state and federal ecosystem for workforce development and the biggest one thing is making sure we’re in alignment in a way that will benefit businesses.

Q: Any particular challenges you’re seeing right now for our area?

A; We don’t have a Honda plant here with 4,000 people. We have Magnum Magnetics with 200 and Hi-Vac with 200. We have different building projects and business needs. Being involved with a larger group could give us access to another level of opportunity. Being part of a larger consortium can give us the opportunity for grant funding and access to pay to play services, which would be difficult for a small school otherwise. This can give us greater access to resources.

Q: How often will the group meet?

A: We’re going to meet in Columbus quarterly. That’s typically a good rotation for workforce development. A lot of things happen quarterly.

Q: Can you tell me a little bit more about your position at Washington State? What does your job entail?

A: I handle corporate partnerships so I spend a lot of time with businesses and finding out what their needs are. I also manage our apprenticeship grant and am working on another grant.

Q: What are some of the unfilled needs in the area right now?

A: Across industries, what I’m hearing everywhere I go is that they need someone who can pass a drug test and show up on time. We’re getting involved with groups in Washington County that are trying to help with that.

Soft skills are still a big part of the conversation. I’m amazed at how often that comes up. They want someone who can problem solve and troubleshoot. We had a customized class this month (for Solvay) specific to learning how to troubleshoot for their business. They find that when they’re training everything is set up for them perfectly, the welding machine fires right up. In a way, they want to set them up for failure and have things be broken so they can walk them through how to troubleshoot.

Q: What jobs are really in demand right now?

A: We have bulk retirement right now in industrial maintenance. Looking forward, we’ll have a lot of people retiring in instrumentation/electrical work, so we’ll need to fill those jobs. And even with us and the career center, we’re not able to meet all the demand for welding jobs.

Health-related field also continue to be in demand. We have great enrollment and are at capacity for a lot of classes and still don’t generate enough people for every specific job.

Q: What do you hope local residents get out of Washington State being a part of this work group?

A: A lot of times people here feel that Columbus is not listening and I’d like the community to understand that even though we’re small and in southeastern Ohio, this is proof that they are listening. They are engaged. Columbus is paying attention and finally embracing that we are different here and doing business is different here. I’m from this area, I’ve been here my whole life and it’s important that we have a voice.

Kate York conducted this interview.

Jesse Roush

¯ Age: 36.

¯ Residence: Vincent.

¯ Occupation: Executive Director of Workforce Development and Corporate Partnerships at Washington State Community College.

¯ Education: Warren High School graduate; Degree in marketing from Ohio University; certificate in project management.

¯ Family: Wife, Tracie; Daughters Kaydence, 6, and Kenna, 2.

Source: Jesse Roush.

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