COLUMBUS, Ohio, June 25, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) announced today the recipients of its Scaling Apprenticeship Through Sector-Based Strategies grant. The grant includes a $12 million award to Ohio's Lorain County Community College (LCCC), the lead applicant in collaboration with Ohio TechNet (OTN) and The Ohio Manufacturers' Association (OMA), collectively known as the Ohio Manufacturing Workforce Partnership (OMWP).

The funding will play a vital role in helping Ohio address the workforce shortage and skills gap affecting manufacturing, as manufacturers across the state have repeatedly cited workforce as their top issue of concern. With the grant funds, OMWP will upskill 5,000 Ohioans over the next four years through Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Programs (IRAP), an innovative earn-and-learn model recently authorized by the USDOL.

"Ohio manufacturers understand that it's time to change the way we develop talent," said OMA President Eric L. Burkland. "Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Programs take the best of traditional, registered apprenticeship – structured on-the-job training, with related classroom instruction, and regularly increasing wages – and give manufacturers the flexibility to determine which skills and outcomes are most important to their long-term success. To ensure that these flexible apprenticeships provide high-quality training, each will be tied to a specific Industry Recognized Credential."

Burkland noted that the USDOL opportunity came at the perfect time for Ohio manufacturers. "For the last two years, we have been building a system of regional Industry Sector Partnerships to foster collaboration and resource sharing among manufacturers and their education and workforce partners. It was this systems-level work that prepared us to submit a compelling proposal to the Department of Labor," he said.

A key element of that system is Ohio TechNet, a consortium of Ohio's community colleges and other post-secondary education institutions, launched in 2014 with a focus on accelerating the readiness of Ohio's workforce for manufacturing careers.

"Leaders across Ohio's institutions of higher education, including community colleges, universities, and Ohio Technical Centers, understand that we need new ways to partner with industry to ensure that our communities are ready for both the jobs of today and those of tomorrow," said Ohio Department of Higher Education Chancellor Randy Gardner. "Scaling apprenticeships through this new investment will offer expanded opportunities for meeting talent needs of Ohio's manufacturers."

Marcia J. Ballinger, Ph.D., president of LCCC which leads the Ohio TechNet consortium, affirmed the importance of new forms of industry-educational collaboration. "This is an opportunity to transform workforce development strategies to meet the needs of advanced manufacturers. We couldn't be more pleased to have this opportunity to deepen our work with The Ohio Manufacturers' Association through the Ohio Manufacturing Workforce Partnership to ensure Ohio remains a leader in manufacturing talent innovation. Scaling apprenticeships in new and different ways is an innovation that works by providing opportunities for employers to build a workforce to spec, provide blended earn and learn models for individuals and fosters redesign of programs at higher education institutions to reduce time and cost to earn a degree and credential."

The stated goals of the USDOL's initiative are to: (a) accelerate the expansion of apprenticeships to new industry sectors reliant on H-1B visas; (b) promote the large-scale expansion of apprenticeships; and (c) increase apprenticeship opportunities for all Americans.

"I applaud the Labor Department for awarding this grant to Lorain County Community College (LCCC) in partnership with NAM's Manufacturing Skills Institute and the Ohio Manufacturers' Association (OMA). I often hear from Ohio employers about their workforce challenges, and community colleges like LCCC play an important role working with employers to create a workforce that meets the needs of today's economy. We can build on this success by passing legislation I've introduced called the JOBS Act to help close the skills gap further by making students in shorter-term CTE programs eligible for federal Pell Grants. Working together, we can ensure that all Ohioans have the skills they need to fill the jobs of today and tomorrow," said US Senator Rob Portman.

"When we talk about respecting the dignity of work that has to mean making sure our students have the opportunity to pursue jobs that pay well, that are fulfilling, and where they can build careers that lead to middle-class life. By investing in programs like LCCC's, we can introduce students to the many opportunities available to them, whether they choose to pursue additional workforce training or get a job. I'm glad to join Senator Portman to support this effort," said US Senator Sherrod Brown.

OMWP's project will focus on career pathways in advanced manufacturing with an eye toward technological advances, including Industry 4.0 and cybersecurity. To date, the partnership has secured commitments from Ohio manufacturers to train 2,315 apprentices. OMA and its industry sector partnership network will be conducting outreach and education to bring industry-recognized apprenticeship opportunities to additional Ohio manufacturers while OTN continues to develop innovative and accelerated training models at community colleges, universities and Ohio Technical Centers.

National partners that are part of OMWP include the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Institute of Metalworking Skills, the American Welding Society, and Jobs For the Future.

About OMA The mission of The Ohio Manufacturers' Association is to protect and grow Ohio manufacturing. Learn more at OHIOMFG.com and MakingOhio.com.

About LCCC ( www.lorainccc.edu ) Established in 1963, Lorain County Community College is located approximately 30 miles west of Cleveland, Ohio and is the first community college in Ohio with a permanent campus. Lorain County Community College offers a progressive, diverse educational environment serving more than 11,000 associate degree students per year and offering more than 100 academic programs and majors. LCCC has emerged as an innovator in higher education through the success of its University Partnership – the first of its kind at an Ohio community college – where more than 3,000 students are able to pursue more than 50 bachelor's and master's degrees from 14 of Ohio's leading universities on LCCC's campus at about a third of the cost. In 2018 LCCC was recognized as the top community college in the nation for Excellence in Student Success by the American Association of Community Colleges.

About OTN ( www.ohiotechnet.org ) We are a consortium of education and training institutions developing innovative new education and training strategies. By promoting efficiency and creativity through collaboration, Ohio TechNet has sparked the development of dozens of new or enhanced programs that have trained thousands. Ohio TechNet launched in 2014 through a U.S. Department of Labor Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant to Lorain County Community College on behalf of a statewide consortium of 11 community colleges. Since then, the consortium has grown to represent over 28 Ohio institutions of higher education as well as industry and state partners, with a shared focus on meeting Ohio's manufacturing workforce needs.

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SOURCE Lorain County Community College

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