Displaced Clermont workers to benefit from grant

March 22nd, 2007    Author: Rodney Beckwith    Filed Under: News

Clermont County will have the chance to participate in an innovative new approach to job development, thanks to a state grant for workforce development.

Tim McCartney, Director of the Clermont County Department of Job and Family Services, said that Clermont County’s participation in a regional workforce group will give it a slot in the program, which will begin soon with the help of a $645,000 grant.

“Clermont County is part of a workforce development area,” said McCartney. “That comprises Clermont, Butler and Warren counties. That is a workforce investment area, and the grant was awarded to the board that oversees it. Clermont County is a part of that.”

The grant is designed to help create a better environment for finding jobs and matching them to workers. McCartney said that this first phase of the grant will focus on determining what skills and jobs are available in the region.

"The state of Ohio made this grant available, we applied for it and it was awarded to us," said McCartney. "The actual grant is called a 'mass layoff grant.' Areas that have been effected by large layoffs of downsizings are eligible, and obviously, Clermont County has. What we are going to do is look at the job vacancies that exist in our region, greater than in Clermont, Butler or Warren counties. We're going to look at what the vacancies are and what skills are required to do those jobs. We will then survey those people who are unemployed in southwest Ohio to identify the skills they have, identify the gap between the available jobs and the skills that people have, and then work with training entities to fill those gaps. We want to line people up for these jobs. This is phase one of the grant."

While job training programs are available, this would be the first large-scale effort in this region to determine exactly what skills are needed by local employers so that local workers can be trained to take jobs that are easily accessible from home.

"We hope to roll this into economic development efforts in this region," said McCartney. "The idea is to plan, and then implement in another phase. This is the planning phase, where we get the lay of the land. We need to know the issues these people have and help them get connected. We have other programs, and programs are coming out, that give training for employment. We want to direct people correctly. We don't want to train people for jobs that don't exist here or in areas where there isn't a demand for workers. This will benefit the region, and the state of Ohio. We'll be a guinea pig for them."

Once a matching list of jobs to skills has been created, then a second phase can begin where actual job training programs are tooled up to meet the demand. Recent examples of the potential usefulness of this effort include the impending closure of the Ford Transmission Plant in Batavia. This project could conceivably help workers be trained for specific work in another area industry once they become unemployed.

"We will solicit bids to do this research," said McCartney. "We'll share the research with our regional partners and the state of Ohio. This will be the most comprehensive vacancy survey ever done in this area. In general, the state of Ohio has been affected by downsizing, but we worked very hard to get this grant because other places have gotten grants, and we've probably got the largest one.

"We're excited about it and hope to tie it into any other workforce development or economic development efforts in the region."
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