Clark County group pushing community toward worforce readiness program

Members of the Community Improvement Corporation of Clark County said Thursday they plan to push local businesses and schools to take a closer look at a program designed to help communities identify skill gaps and look for ways to improve the local workforce.

Several area agencies, including the Chamber of Greater Springfield, Clark State Community College and Ohio Means Jobs of Clark County, have been working for close to a year to certify Clark County in an ACT Work Ready program, said Amy Donahoe, director of hiring and employer services for the Chamber of Greater Springfield.

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The CIC, which is funded with both private and public money, is tasked with attracting and retaining business in Clark County.

Donahoe argued the program has several benefits, including showing employers that a region has a skilled pool of workers, while helping local educators determine what skills gaps exist for students. But the CIC and its board members need to push to get more local school districts and businesses involved for the program to be successful, she said.

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“It’s going to be an important tool to be able to communicate with our workforce,” Donahoe said.

The certification is a portable credential that shows job candidates have the essential skills to be successful. The idea is to show employers that potential workers have the basic aptitude for math, reading comprehension and other skills that can translate to various jobs.

There have been employers looking at Clark County who have asked if Clark County has a certified workforce, and at least now local officials can say they’re progressing toward that goal, Donahoe said.

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She said some local entities like Clark State Community College are already utilizing the program, and Ohio Means Jobs Clark County has been implementing the tests into its summer youth program. But Donahoe said the CIC will need to push for more local involvement at local school districts and businesses.

Clark County will be one of only a handful of counties in Ohio that is implementing the program, Donahoe said. Preble County has achieved the certification, while Wayne and Lucas counties in Northwest Ohio are working toward certification.

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CIC members also briefly discussed their successes this year, although they said a more thorough review will take place at the organization’s next meeting in January.

Among the most significant projects, Japanese manufacturer Topre America Corp. announced this Spring it will take over the Champion City Business Park in Springfield and create 85 new jobs as part of a $55 million investment. And Silfex, a high-tech manufacturing firm, said this fall the company will invest about $223 million in Springfield as part of an expansion that will eventually create about 400 new jobs.

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