The state Controlling Board this week approved an Ohio Department of Higher Education request to transfer $3 million in capital funds for the purpose of providing three 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 northwest, southwest and southeast Ohio.
“Governor Kasich and the Legislature are committed to building regional educational partnerships where investments in technical and vocational training lead to good-paying jobs in growing local industries,” said Chancellor John Carey. “We’re pleased our RAPIDS program has invested $5 million in these partnerships in the past five months.”
The northwest Ohio award goes to a collaborative formed by Northwest State Community College, the University of Toledo, Bowling Green State University, Owens Community College and Rhodes State College that will focus on manufacturing occupation education and training, particularly related to computer network security. The resources will also benefit the Career and Technology Education Centers (C-TEC) in the region, and include several business partners and economic development groups, including the Regional Growth Partnership.
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 students get a quality education more affordably, Chancellor Carey said.
“Of particular interest to us is cyber security in advanced manufacturing,” said Peter Beck, vice president of manufacturing at Automatic Feed Company in Napoleon, an industry participant in the initiative. “Data collection and cyber security for manufacturing equipment are issues we encounter on a daily basis.”
The southeast Ohio award goes to the SE Ohio Oil & Gas Training Collaborative, composed of Washington State Community College, Zane State College, Belmont College and Eastern Gateway Community College. The group identified opportunities to provide a systemic approach to regional training for the energy industry. The initiative addresses curriculum development, career pathways, articulation and strong business partnerships. Area employers see the benefits of the workforce development effort.
“Industry has a lot of training needs in the fields identified: high-end welders, diesel mechanics, CDL drivers, instrumentation and electrical technicians, chemical operators, pipefitters and heavy equipment operators, to name a few,” said Mike Jacoby, director of shale energy for the Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth. “The equipment list aligns with in-demand training required by the industry.”
The southwest Ohio award will support efforts to strengthen additive and advanced manufacturing using 3D printing technology and other tools in the region. Working with REDI Cincinnati, a consortium consisting of Miami University, the University of Cincinnati and Cincinnati State and Technical College, will provide new equipment to benefit students’ education and training.
Dana Green, account manager for Exact Metrology in Cincinnati, said the workforce training is welcome.
“The need for educational resources for additive manufacturing is ever-expanding as the process becomes more widespread within the industry,” Green said. “However, a limit does exist within the industry as to the number of people educated in the (additive manufacturing) field.”
The funds will support education and skill training of students and/or incumbent workers to meet the current and future talent needs of 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 the first of the regional awards. Other regions will be funded as those collaborative strategic plans are submitted.
About the Ohio Department of Higher Education
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.
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