Portman, Brown Applaud Dept. of Labor Grant to Lorain County Community College to Address Workforce Skills Gap

June 24, 2019 | Press Releases

 WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) applauded the U.S. Department of Labor for awarding a $12 million Scaling Apprenticeship Through Sector-Based strategies grant to Lorain County Community College on behalf of the Ohio Manufacturing Workforce Partnership (OMWP). OMWP, in partnership with the Ohio Manufacturer’s Association, seeks to address the skills gap in manufacturing through the immersion of students and workers in coursework and guided apprenticeships.  

OMWP’s strategy has been successful through Ohio TechNet, a skills-focused training and apprenticeship program administered by Lorain County Community College. Launched in 2014, this program engages students interested in manufacturing opportunities through educational and training partnerships with more than 500 Ohio employers. This $12 million grant will expand the scope and scale of these programs to a statewide network of educational institutions and to more than 1,000 manufacturing enterprises.   

“I applaud the Labor Department for awarding this grant to Lorain County Community College (LCCC) in partnership with NAM’s Manufacturing Skills Institute and the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association (OMA).  I often hear from Ohio employers about their workforce challenges, and community colleges like LCCC play an important role in working with employers to create a workforce that meets the needs of today’s economy.  We can build on this success by passing legislation I’ve introduced called the JOBS Act to help close the skills gap further by making students in shorter-term CTE programs eligible for federal Pell Grants. Working together, we can ensure that all Ohioans have the skills they need to fill the jobs of today and tomorrow,” said Portman. 

“When we talk about respecting the dignity of work, that has to mean making sure our students have the opportunity to pursue jobs that pay well, that are fulfilling, and where they can build careers that lead to middle-class life. By investing in programs like LCCC’s, we can introduce students to the many opportunities available to them, whether they choose to pursue additional workforce training or get a job. I’m glad to join Senator Portman to support this effort,” said Brown. 

“The grant opportunity comes at the perfect time for Ohio manufacturers. For the last two years, we have been building a system of regional Industry Sector Partnerships to foster collaboration and resource sharing among manufacturers and their education and workforce partners. It was this systems-level work that prepared us to submit a compelling proposal to the Department of Labor,” said president of The Ohio Manufacturers’ Association, Eric Burkland.

“This is an opportunity to transform workforce development strategies to meet the needs of advanced manufacturers.  We couldn’t be more pleased to have this opportunity to deepen our work with The Ohio Manufacturers’ Association through the Ohio Manufacturing Workforce Partnership to ensure Ohio remains a leader in manufacturing talent innovation,” Ballinger said. “Scaling apprenticeships in new and different ways is an innovation that works by providing opportunities for employers to build a workforce to spec, provide blended earn-and-learn models for individuals and fosters redesign of programs at higher education institutions to reduce time and cost to earn a degree and credential,” said president of LCCC, Marcia J. Ballinger, Ph.D.

“Across the country, the top challenge facing manufacturers is the inability to attract and retain a qualified workforce," said Carolyn Lee, executive director of The Manufacturing Institute. "An emphasis on apprenticeship programs that equip workers with the right skills and qualifications for well-paying manufacturing jobs will be critical to bridging the skills gap and overcoming the workforce crisis. The Manufacturing Institute is proud to be a part of this initiative and is grateful for Senator Portman and Senator Brown’s hard work advocating for this grant.”

NOTE: In October of 2018, Senators Portman and Brown sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Labor in support of Lorain County Community College’s application for this grant.