Stark State Community College in Canton is launching a new program this fall that encourages high school students to use the popular College Credit Plus program to earn industry certifications in an effort to help young people learn skills needed to fill in-demand jobs in many technical fields.
The new program is expected to help companies in the region restock skilled workers as baby boomers leave the workforce for retirement. The program, dubbed “Learn to Earn,” is an example of higher education working with employers to meet workforce needs while providing students a low-cost pathway to higher-paying jobs in their home communities. Many skilled jobs go unfilled today due to a lack of qualified applicants.
Workforce experts have forecast that by 2025, 65 percent of all jobs in Ohio will require some kind of professional or technical certification. Today, only about 43 percent of Ohio workers have attained such qualifications.
The Learn to Earn program coincides with news that the Stark County Educational Service Center is relocating to space on Stark State’s main campus in North Canton, a move coordinated with the Ohio Department of Education, local school districts, and area employers.
“The program is as much about awareness at a younger age as it is about anything,” said Para Jones, president of Stark State. “Certificate pathways have been around for years, but have not been specifically marketed to high school students. The focus of the curriculum will be to support jobs in information technology, automotive, welding and heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration, but will grow beyond those areas quickly.”