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Hundreds of students connect with local businesses

High school students, college students and businesses gathered for the Dayton Workforce Partnership forum on Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. Lt. Gov. Jon Husted was the keynote speaker. STAFF/BONNIE MEIBERS
High school students, college students and businesses gathered for the Dayton Workforce Partnership forum on Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. Lt. Gov. Jon Husted was the keynote speaker. STAFF/BONNIE MEIBERS

Husted, Dayton group work to keep young talent in the region.

Area high school students and college students got the chance to network with businesses in the Miami Valley at the Dayton Workforce Partnership forum on Friday.

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted was the keynote speaker for the event, which was held at Sinclair Community College. The Dayton Workforce Partnership works to expose local high school and college students to businesses in Dayton and the surrounding area.

“The economy these days is being driven more by innovation and talent than at any time in our history,” Husted said. “So if we want to grow our economy, we have to have that talent.”

Nationally, the population is getting older and many currently in the workforce are retiring.

Husted said there are not enough people to fill those positions, so strengthening programs like this is important for future success.

“We can’t afford to leave anybody behind,” Husted said. “We want to give everybody a job skill. We want to connect them with with employers earlier in the process. When we prove we can supply talent, people will move here and businesses will come here. If we can’t prove we can supply the talent, they’ll go somewhere else.”

EARLIER REPORT: Program exposes students to local opportunities

Ron Adler, vice president of the Dayton Workforce Partnerships, called the program “one of the most comprehensive” in the country. High school students from Lebanon to Tipp City to Sidney came to familiarize themselves with businesses like Premier Health, Woolpert, Reynolds and Reynolds and the United States Air Force.

More than 300 students and parents attended the workforce meeting.

In the years since the program started, it has grown from two or three high schools to 11 area high schools and colleges.

Students from Wright State, Wilberforce, the Miami University regional campuses, University of Dayton, Edison State and other area colleges also attended the forum. In all, there is a pool of about 30,000 students that the Workforce Partnership can draw from.

“The labor pool is shrinking nationally,” Adler said. “It’s a struggle to find talent.”

Over the last 10 years, Ohio created 330,000 new jobs, Husted said.

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Husted mentioned programs like the Choose Ohio First scholarship, which he helped create, that gives funding to Ohio colleges to support someone studying one of the STEM fields. This year, about $20 million in scholarships were awarded.

The TechCred program is a similar scholarship for those already in the workforce. The TechCred allows employers to get reimbursed for "scaling up" an employee.

“We wanted to keep more of those talented Ohioans right here,” Husted said.

“I think (partnership) is an appropriate description; in life you don’t do anything on your own,” Husted said. “It takes a collaboration. Those who collaborate best are the ones that win.”

Businesses should work with high schools, colleges and universities to communicate what kind of skills they need, he said.

“A business can’t grow and compete with anybody across the globe if they didn’t have access to that talent,” Husted said. “And that talent needs to be developed in partnership with educators.”

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In 2020 Husted said it is expected that there will be nine states in the country where the economy shrinks. Three of those nine states border Ohio: Pennsylvania, Kentucky and West Virginia. Indiana and Michigan are both positioned to have their economies grow at a slower rate than Ohio’s.

“Ohio is in a position to be the go to state,” Husted said. “But it is very hard to grow if you don’t have people and talent.”

Adler said the Dayton Workforce Partnership program is doing “exactly” what the lieutenant governor talked about.

“We’re creating a high school network and keeping in touch with them and their parents, so that when it comes time, they can feel like they’re making an informed decision,” Adler said.