Ohio gubernatorial candidate Rich Cordray laid out his plan to improve workforce training during a news conference Monday at Sinclair Community College.
“College is one answer (but) it’s not the only path to the middle class,” said Cordray, standing among airplanes and drones at the National Unmanned Aerial Systems Training and Certification Center on campus.
“Ohioans deserve access to all of the training they need to compete,” said Cordray, a Democrat running against Republican Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine to replace Gov. John Kasich.
Business and development officials in the Dayton region say workforce training and labor shortages are a major problem in this era of declining unemployment rates and a tightening labor market. The Dayton Daily News is examining the problem as part of The Path Forward, a project designed to identify problems and solutions to the region’s biggest issues.
Cordray, former head of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, outlined his plan to refocus state resources on helping workers. He said Kasich has given too much attention to giving tax incentives to companies at the expense of worker training.
DeWine spokesman Joshua Eck said Republicans cleaned up a mess left by Democrats in 2010, the year DeWine defeated Cordray in the race for state attorney general.
“Richard Cordray scribbling talking points on a napkin won’t make Ohioans forget the 400,000 jobs lost, the drained state savings account, and the $8 billion budget hole we were left with the last time he and the Democrats were in charge,” Eck said. “It’s been under Republican leadership that we’ve turned Ohio around and put our state in a position to grow and succeed - job creators know that, which is why they are backing Mike DeWine.”
Codray said his plan would put more Ohioans to work, helping them get the skills they need to get better jobs.
He said it wouldn’t necessarily cost the state more money because he would re-purpose $50 million in federal workforce funds already being spent by the state and county governments, using it to target careers in health care, education, construction, advanced manufacturing and computer systems.
He called for more industrial apprenticeships, creation of lifelong learning and training accounts for people to use for education, and doing more to link Ohioans with training and jobs. He said Ohio’s future depends on having a “skilled and adaptable workforce.”
“Businesses have been quite clear, that they will only locate where they can find talented and skilled employees and we want that to be right here in Ohio,” Cordray said.
Cordray’s plan does not address how to pay the cost of college education for high school graduates who are not going the trade-school route but do not want to go deeply in debt to pay tuition earning a bachelor’s degree or other advanced degrees that many jobs require.
“People who go to a four-year college, and there’s an increasing number of them, that’s fine, that’s great,” Cordray said. “And that’s one path forward. But skills-based training that’s more flexible, more adaptable to people in mid-career is important. And having these lifelong learning and training accounts that can follow people throughout life from job to job is very important and we can re-purpose money toward that.”