The state Controlling Board this week approved an Ohio Department of Higher Education request to transfer $3,249,630 in capital funds for the purpose of providing two 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 northeast and western Ohio.
“Our RAPIDS program has invested more than $8 million in these partnerships during the fiscal year,” said Chancellor John Carey. “That investment 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.”
The western Ohio award goes to two consortiums formed by Sinclair Community College and Wright State University. The Sinclair-led consortium will focus on advanced manufacturing through partnerships with Clark State Community College, Edison State Community College, the University of Dayton and Wright State. Wright State will lead a partnership to support cybersecurity education and training with Clark State and Sinclair. 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 more students get a quality education more affordably, Chancellor Carey said.
Regional employers said the RAPIDS grants will help fill a need for skilled workers.
“As a growing, Dayton-based cybersecurity company, Tenet3 is in great need of the talents and skill sets identified. I applaud and encourage Wright State’s continued efforts in producing capable graduates that can be immediately productive in these technical areas,” said Jeff A. Hughes, president of Tenet3 LLC.
The northeast Ohio funds are shared by colleges and universities throughout the region serving the advanced manufacturing and healthcare fields. Participating institutions include Lorain County Community College, Cleveland State University, North Central State College, Cuyahoga Community College, Lakeland Community College, Northeast Ohio Medical University, Kent State University, the University of Akron, Stark State College, Youngstown State University and Eastern Gateway Community College. The initiative addresses equipment needs, curriculum development, career pathways, articulation and strong business partnerships. Area employers see the benefits of the workforce development effort.
David McClintick, manufacturing engineering supervisor at the General Motors Lordstown facility, summarized the benefits of the RAPIDS initiative for his company and other manufacturers in the region.
“As one of the largest regional manufacturing employers, we certainly recognize the importance of a well-trained workforce,” McClintick said. “The opportunity for students to learn on real, industrial equipment will make them better prepared to join our workforce, as will their experience in working alongside other disciplines.”
The health care industry, through its business partners, echoed McClintick’s sentiment when looking at tomorrow’s challenges and opportunities.
“Providing telemedicine training for future practitioners will be one step in eliminating the existing disparities that hospitals, urban and rural communities and home-bound clients face,” said Jane Dus, RN, DNP, NE-BC, chief nursing officer for University Hospitals’ Case Medical Center. “Additionally, training healthcare professionals on this equipment will provide an even greater workforce with the knowledge needed to further support these communities.”
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.