The state Controlling Board this week approved an Ohio Department of Higher Education request to transfer $3,606,352 in capital funds for the purpose of providing four regional awards for workforce development projects relating to the department’s Regionally Aligned Priorities in Delivering Skills (RAPIDS) program. The funds will be awarded for projects in Southwest, Northwest, Southeast, and the western portion of Northeast Ohio.
“The ongoing investment in the RAPIDS program shows Governor Kasich and the legislature are committed to building regional educational partnerships with technical and vocational training that lead to good-paying jobs in growing local industries,” said Chancellor John Carey.
RAPIDS grants are used to purchase state-of-the-art equipment for use in learning laboratories specific to regional workforce needs. And because the laboratories are often shared among colleges and universities, the resources operate efficiently and help more students get a quality education more affordably.
Northwest Ohio targeted its funding to advanced manufacturing and information technology supporting the regional variety of economic activity. Participating schools include the University of Toledo, Bowling Green State University, Northwest State Community College, Terra State College, Rhodes State College, Owens Community College, Defiance College, Vantage Career Center and Penta Career Center.
Regional employers said the RAPIDS grants will help fill a need for skilled workers.
“We believe that the big data analytics and computational servers, along with advanced robotics platforms such as these requested by BGSU through the RAPIDS grant, are unique and essential to many industries including energy, food production, and automotive,” said Jay A. Lake, workforce development and community relations manager, First Solar, Inc.
The funds will support education and skills training of students and/or incumbent workers to meet the current and future talent needs of the growing, emerging, and high-demand industries by investing in capital equipment and facilities. Businesses, colleges and universities, and career technical centers were asked to work together to develop strategic plans for using the funds. The RAPIDS program was launched in 2014; these are among the second round of regional awards. Other regions will be funded as those collaborative strategic plans are submitted.
The Ohio Department of Higher Education (formerly known as the Ohio Board of Regents) is a Cabinet-level agency for the Governor of the State of Ohio that oversees higher education for the state. The agency’s main responsibilities include authorizing and approving new degree programs, managing state-funded financial aid programs and developing and advocating policies to maximize higher education’s contributions to the state and its citizens.