Sinclair increases focus on solving local education, workforce woes

Scott Griggs hands his resume to Penny Darst, the director of recruitment for Addison Healthcare Professionals, Thursday July 7, 2022 at the Exploring Careers in Manufacturing and Technology Hiring Event at the Trotwood Branch Library. Sinclair Community College and Dayton Metro Library partnered to put on the event. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

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Scott Griggs hands his resume to Penny Darst, the director of recruitment for Addison Healthcare Professionals, Thursday July 7, 2022 at the Exploring Careers in Manufacturing and Technology Hiring Event at the Trotwood Branch Library. Sinclair Community College and Dayton Metro Library partnered to put on the event. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

In a rocky economy, Sinclair Community College is holding several opportunities this summer to connect people who need a job with the employers who are looking for employees.

There are career fairs today at Sinclair’s campus and Aug. 2 at the downtown Dayton library for traditional job-seekers, but also to connect people to the education they need to land that job. Today’s event specifically targets young people who disconnected from school.

“In order for Dayton to thrive, not only survive, but thrive, we need a younger workforce,” said Sue Phelps, academic coach for the Fast Forward Re-Engagement Center at Sinclair. “So the first step to getting that younger workforce is getting them engaged back into school to get their education requirements for these specific jobs.”

Between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Friday outside of Building 14 on Sinclair’s campus, Sinclair is aiming to connect to people between the ages of 17 and 25 and help them finish their education. The Academic Re-engagement and Career Festival (ARC) includes free food, games, academic and re-engagement information, music, give-a-ways, job & community resource information and a 360-degree photo booth. It is in partnership with Montgomery County Workforce Development.

Sinclair will have resources for people to get their GEDs, high school diploma, resources for mental health and other ways to support the person who dropped out.

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According to Jobs Ohio, the Ohio civilian labor force has shrunk by 28,300 people between March 2020 and May 2022. But in the period leading to the pandemic (March 2018 to December 2019), the labor force actually increased by 109,453 people.

Sinclair is working with Jobs Ohio and other community partners, including Goodwill Easter Seals and the Urban League, to connect employers with potential employees.

“We can all share what we’re learning and hearing and collaborate to make it a community wide effort to get employers the talent they need and to get job seekers a good paying job that has career potential,” said Kathleen Cleary, senior vice president of strategic programs at Sinclair.

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Michelle Littlejohn, the manager of the Fast Forward Re-Engagement Center, said people drop out of school for a variety of reasons. Instead of asking students in an accusing way, “Why did you drop out?” they intend to ask, “What made you drop out?”

That can help the college find the student the best resources to support them through getting a diploma, she said.

Littlejohn and Phelps estimate about 11% of people in Montgomery County have dropped out of high school, down from about 25% in the early 2000s when the FFRC was founded due to high dropout rates in the county. But Phelps said according to the U.S. Census numbers, that 11% is about 40,000 people.

On Thursday, the college held a job fair at the Trotwood Library to connect people to employers who have job openings in the manufacturing sector, one area where a lot of companies have openings and potential long-term careers.

Cleary said holding the job fairs in libraries has made them more accessible and casual for people than a convention hall. People can wander into the library in shorts and a t-shirt, not knowing that there was a job fair at that location, and make a connection with an employer, she said.

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Cleary said a retired nurse came into a recent healthcare jobs fair at the Wilmington-Stroop branch of the Dayton Metro Library who wanted to talk to employers about working part time or a few hours. That person, who lived near the library, may not have come into a similar career fair at a convention hall, Cleary said.

“The library is a place people are already going to for information and to learn, and so it’s kind of a safe, comfortable environment where people can come in and chat,” Cleary said.

The next career fair will be at the downtown branch of the Dayton Metro Library and focused on healthcare on Aug. 2.

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