By Catherine Candisky
Gov. John Kasich wants Ohio workers trained for jobs that businesses are looking to fill.
With dozens of training programs and plenty of opportunities in health care, energy and other fields, it should be easy.
But it's not, Kasich says.
Not yet, anyway.
"We have job openings, but yet we don't have people to fill them," the Republican governor told business leaders and lawmakers who convened yesterday for the first meeting of the Governor's Executive Workforce Board.
Kasich appointed the 25-member panel to coordinate with Ohio businesses to identify future work-force needs and streamline the 90-plus government-funded work-training programs spread across 12 state agencies. He wants the state's colleges and universities to craft their programs, too.
But the governor said he needs more cooperation from business. The administration has been encouraging companies to provide forecasts of future jobs with little success.
"We've asked the energy companies to give us their list. I can't tell you how many times I've asked them. We've had a few dribble out, but not all we want."
Kasich said there seems to be distrust of the state's motives, and he urged the panel members to do what they could to encourage corporate cooperation.
"We've got to convince businesses from Ohio that it's safe to tell us what they need. Once we know what they need, then we can begin to fashion this curriculum and training programs to meet those goals, but it has been extremely frustrating."
The governor said Ohio's colleges and universities stand ready to help but need guidance from business.
"Once they get the direction, they'll move," Kasich said.
The state, he said, will soon unveil a voucher program that will make "20 or 30 million dollars" in casino revenue available to train workers. Businesses will be eligible for up to $500,000 to retrain their workers to meet future needs.
In addition, the state will consolidate and coordinate existing training programs -- most geared to unemployed workers -- and increase awareness to businesses when they are looking to hire. Kasich also wants the panel to focus on the employment needs of veterans, as about 35 percent of returning Ohio National Guard troops are looking for jobs.
"What we're trying to create is an effective marketplace, an effective system," said R. Blane Walter, founder and CEO of InChord Communications, a health-care communications company.
"We've got a lot of talent in the state; we've got a lot of great companies. It's trying to make sure we do as good of a job as we can to develop that talent and understand where business is headed (so) we have people trained and ready for those jobs."