Workforce Center Bridges Skills Gap

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

In an effort to increase Ohio’s economic competitive edge, Central Ohio Technical College (COTC) is striving to improve workforce preparation through its Workforce Development Innovation Center (WDIC).


The WDIC opened in 2011 to develop programs and courses that provide innovative solutions to specific business and industry challenges while helping the workforce to develop the skills, knowledge, and abilities needed to succeed. The WDIC offers customized contract training that ranges from technical skill enhancement and safety certifications to soft skills development and professional designation exam preparation. Examples of curriculum include management and leadership development training; environmental, safety, and health training; technical skills and computer training; and certificate programs.


The uniqueness of the WDIC is its full integration with COTC’s academic division, which provides participants with contract training, customized training for college credit, technical skills training, and overall support for entrepreneurial enterprises.


The customized contract training component of the WDIC allows businesses to improve workplace performance while exploring new talent to fill positions and leadership roles. Businesses have a “menu” of items from which to choose to incorporate within a contract, including cultural diversity, emergency response, blueprint reading, and managing QuickBooks. Beginning this summer, employers also have the option of selecting from different culinary workshops.


In 2014, Hebron-based linear-motion manufacturer THK utilized the WDIC to create an eight-series leadership/management development program called “Developing Tomorrow’s Leaders Today.” The series is in response to what many industry leaders identify as a challenge in the “graying workforce” with a lack of internal leadership as the economy rebounds. The WDIC focused on temperament basics, collaboration and team-building, interpersonal communication, and sensitivity and generational difference training. Following the success of the series, THK is planning additional series focused on skill development.


In addition to customized training, two Personal and Professional Development eLearning Programs are available. The first eLearning program is designed for students to help them master the job interview process. The platform includes learning the proper influencing language to differentiate from another candidate, secrets of body language during an interview, and effective rapport building at the job interview. The second eLearning curriculum provides a foundation for advancing careers and tips for success. Facing fears, upgrading clothing choices, and navigating pay scales are a few topics discussed.


A major initiative under way for the WDIC in 2015 is to determine how to bridge skill gaps and fill the labor pipeline with workers who will meet job demands as well as the specific needs of the industry, particularly in matters of soft-skill or hard-skill training. 

“It is the commitment and charge of the Workforce Development Innovation Center at COTC to improve the skills of the workforce and grow economic development in Ohio, providing a competitive edge and furthering the mission of COTC to meet the technical education and training needs of students and employers in the area,” said Vicki Maple, manager of the WDIC.

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