COTC Part of Collaborative Awarded State Education Funds

Training students to meet the needs of area employers and grow the local economy is part of Central Ohio Technical College’s mission.  That’s why COTC’s Workforce Development Innovation Center jumped at the chance to be part of a collaborative effort with Columbus State Community College and Marion Technical College to meet the current and future talent needs of growing, emerging and high-demand industries in our region. The state Controlling Board recently awarded $1 million in capital funds to the effort through an Ohio Department of Higher Education request related to the department’s Regionally Aligned Priorities in Delivering Skills (RAPIDS) program.

“Upon learning of the opportunity for the RAPIDS grant opportunity through the Ohio Department of Higher Education and realizing the increasing need for qualified technicians in regional manufacturing companies due to elevated production demands, it was natural for the Workforce Development Innovation Center at COTC to pursue such funding in an effort to address the skills gap and to maximize the learning opportunity for our current Engineering Technology students,” said Workforce Development Innovation Center Director Vicki Maple.

The collaborative will focus on manufacturing occupation education and training for entry to mid-level positions. Included is funding for equipment that will be housed at the Career and Technology Education Centers (C-TEC) of Licking County. The collaborative also includes several business partners and economic development groups, including Columbus 2020.

“Our focus was on creating a sustainable education pipeline that would lead to high-demand manufacturing technology positions,” said Maple. “Initiatives such as this are critical because there is simply not a sufficient pipeline of skilled workers in this industry to meet the current demands nor those of the future, so we must attract, train, and retain a qualified workforce; all the while, creating a mechanism to keep dialogue and collaboration efforts alive between industry, education, and workforce.”

The collaborative was one of two regional awards. The RAPIDS program was launched in 2014; these are the first of the regional awards. Other regions will be funded as those collaborative strategic plans are submitted.

“We understand that appropriately trained workers are the gateway to continued growth; therefore, this grant will provide necessary equipment and technology, training students with such competencies to fill jobs with these industry partners in the immediate future,” said Maple. “In the long run, the pipeline will continue to connect individuals to high-demand manufacturing positions, and ultimately the success of this program will attract more students, creating a positive economic impact.”