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April 30, 2021 View as Webpage
Embracing Strategies to Close the Workforce Gap – in Ohio and Stark County
The August publication Bridging Ohio’s Workforce Gap sets an action plan in place to address the state’s critical skills gap. As jobs demand more and higher level knowledge and skills, the need is evident in the data – “Ohio needs nearly one million more adults with high value credentials and postsecondary degrees to keep up with employer needs and to keep the state’s economy moving.”
 
The plan’s public-private coalition – including Ohio Excels in partnership with Complete to Compete Ohio Coalition – acknowledges the unacceptable educational attainment gaps in Ohio based on household income and race. The purpose of the proposed plan is to guide efforts to insure that they shrink, not widen, the equity gap.
 
According to the publication, Ohio's working-age adults have a 49.2% attainment rate for degrees granted and credentials earned. The national average is 51.3%, and Ohio ranks 31st among the states. When disaggregated by race, the data reveal a 13% gap between non-white underrepresented minorities and white peers.

Five strategies to increase attainment are outlined in Bridging Ohio's Workforce Gap:
1) Attainment Value – Create demand by developing and sharing comprehensive messaging on the impact of attainment;
2) Workforce Alignment – Deepen the connections between education, the workforce and social services;
3) Access and Affordability – Create and communicate affordable routes to degrees and credentials with minimal or no debt; 
4) Academic Success and Completion – Ensure Ohioans have knowledge and skills they need to start a career or a new education experience remediation free and on time;
5) Regional Partnerships – Create and support multi-sector partnerships striving to address local workforce and education needs and accelerate attainment.
Stark County partners are implementing a number of initiatives to bridge the talent/workforce gap: 
The Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce – in partnership with Magnet, the Stark Economic Development Board and local manufacturers – has initiated an industry sector partnership plan. The Stark County Manufacturing Workforce Development Partnership is working with the Stark Educational Service Center and the districts they serve to connect graduates with job openings. Students can use a QR code to find potential openings for in demand jobs in manufacturing in Stark County.
Strengthening Stark has developed the Stark Career Connect initiative focused on helping talent connect with in demand jobs using Strengthening Stark’s dynamic jobs database. One specific strategy targets minority and displaced workers. Stark State College, the Urban League, Goodwill and Ohio Means Jobs are marketing open positions to underrepresented potential candidates and connecting them to navigators from the Urban League and/or Goodwill. The navigators will support the candidates through the employment process and during their first 100 days to help guide them to success.
The Stark Education Partnership, through their Ohio Cradle to Career (C2C) network, was awarded several grants to remove financial barriers for ‘stopped out adults’ to return to Stark State and KSU Stark to complete their credentials and or degree.
The Stark Education Partnership (a 501(c)3 non-profit organization) collaborates with education, business, civic and community members across the entire spectrum – cradle to career – to create and respond to opportunities that will provide ALL students with education and career success.