Clark State adds banking program to meet demand for workers

A new academic program at Clark State Community College aims to fill a large need in the Ohio and Springfield banking industry.

School and local banking industry leaders have worked together to develop a program that prepares students to work in a field that has many high-paying jobs available right now, especially as many Baby Boomers continue to retire. The banking focus at the school will be offered through the management major, said Amit Singh, the provost and senior vice president of academic affairs.

“We are always looking for the need in the community,” Singh said. “We were hearing from people from the banking association that there is a need for these kind of programs and training.”

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Local and state bankers said the need for new bankers in the community and in Ohio is real. About 4,000 people are employed in all financial services in Springfield currently, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“There is no secret with our demographics that we are going to have a number of retirements over the next five to 10 years,” Security National Bank President John Brown said.

His bank has outstanding young talent already on the roster, Brown said, but will need more. Jobs are going to start to open up in Springfield, he said, and it’s important that an educated group exists and is ready to take those spots.

“Quite frankly if we don’t have the talent to take care of our local community here, there will not be a place for community banks,” he said.

Banking can be a rewarding career, he said.

“It’s a job where you are helping grow a local economy and helping small businesses succeed,” Brown said.

Across the state banking jobs are going unfilled, said Bob Palmer, president of the Community Bankers of Ohio Association.

“There is a talent drain occurring very quickly in our industry,” Palmer said. “The majority of those involved are older and in the later stages of their careers and we are experiencing a large amount of retirement.”

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Many banking jobs are open right now, he said.

“What we are having are people coming in and trying to fill positions and they do not have the basic skill set to work in the industry,” Palmer said.

Courses like the ones Clark State plans to install fall semester will help fill the jobs, he said.

Providing opportunities to students in the in-demand industries is a top priority for Clark State, Singh said.

“We are a community college, that’s our middle name — community,” he said. “Our mission is to make sure we are serving the needs of the community.”

Clark State students in the banking program will also learn about customer service, marketing and personal finance, on top of the fundamentals of banking, Singh said. The initial goal is for 10 students to apply, but the college has the capacity for more.

Attracting young people into the banking profession is a top priority for the industry, Ohio Bankers League Spokesman James Thurston said.

“The need for high-quality education at the college level that’s focused specifically on banking is high,” he said.

Ohio is one of the top banking states in the country, Thurston said, with about 200 chartered banks in the state. About 30 banks with headquarters outside the state also have large ties to Ohio.

The state has about 60,000 bankers, he said, and more than 300,000 people are employed by banks chartered in Ohio across the world.

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“We are trying to step up our game to attract new young talent for careers in banking,” Thurston said.

And this program — and programs like it that are developing in colleges across the state — is one way of doing so.

“ “We will be creating a scholarship fund that will offer scholarship to students state wide,” Thurston said.

Banking is more than just lending and financial transactions, he said, it also offers opportunities in marketing, technology, human resources and cyber security. Clark State already offers a nationally recognized cyber security program.

Providing classes and opportunities that result in jobs here in Clark County and the surrounding areas is important to the school, Clark State President Jo Alice Blondin in a statement.

“Clark State is committed to developing the workforce in our region, and the banking degree is a direct response to the need for qualified professionals in this industry,” she said.

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