VOICES: Collectively building our next generation workforce through regional partnerships

“If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else.”

While baseball legend Yogi Berra and others have expressed that sentiment over the years, it’s not what we’re about here in Montgomery County. Our region does know where we are going when it comes to helping our students and adults achieve the skills they need to thrive to their fullest God-given potentials and succeed in an ever-changing workforce environment.

In fact, as a community, we have set a collective goal of helping 65% of our adults skill up to achieve a post-secondary marketable industry credential, a certificate or a degree.

How are we working to achieve this goal which will drive Ohio’s economic future vitality and our citizens’ health and stability? It’s a process powered by a regional partnership with leaders bringing stakeholders together across a wide range of sectors to begin with an end in mind and work backwards to create a plan of action.

In Montgomery County, our regional partnership is called Learn to Earn Dayton – and it’s one of the very best not only in our state but in the nation as evidenced by its recent “Systems Transformation” designation. For the past 10 years, Learn to Earn Dayton has harnessed data, convened partners and connected with community voices to identify and resource innovative solutions. Just some of the results generated: launching early childhood initiatives, which grew to become highly successful Preschool Promise, facilitating FAFSA data tracking to help mitigate student college debt, fostering device access and internet access work during the pandemic, and attracting tens of millions in funding for strategic community initiatives.

Thanks to the leadership of early implementers like Learn to Earn Dayton and the Summit Education Initiative in Akron, our network of regional partnerships is growing across Ohio. Today, partnerships impacting 20 counties are successfully driving educational attainment for our children and families.

Together, individuals who know their communities’ unique strengths and needs best are engaged in collective impact efforts to help move the needle on post high school credential attainment and workforce readiness. But much more work is needed. Ohio currently ranks 33rd in terms of intellectual capital. The time is now for Ohio to invest in replicating regional partnerships throughout our state to create a next generation workforce so essential for attracting next generation jobs and enabling our people to thrive well into the future.

State Representative Andrea White is serving her second term in the Ohio House of Representatives. She represents the 36th District, which covers Kettering, Oakwood, Moraine and portions of West Dayton, East Dayton and Jefferson Township. You can contact Representative White’s office at 614-644-6008 or rep36@ohiohouse.gov.

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