$11M for college internships, co-ops approved

Final approval was given this week for Ohio colleges and universities to spend $11 million to create as many as 3,500 internships and co-ops for students, an effort that will better prepare students for jobs after they graduate, contribute to a more highly trained workforce and help the state attract more businesses, experts say.

Twenty-two schools in Ohio will participate with grants funded through casino license fees. The awards require matching funds from employers and the $11 million was contingent upon Monday’s approval from the Ohio Controlling Board.

“Our goal is to have educated and skilled people to fill jobs currently available or that employers expect to open in the next few years.” said State Sen. Chris Widener, R-Springfield, who sits on the controlling board. “Creating jobs in Ohio is only successful if we have a trained workforce to fill the jobs.”

Having a trained workforce is a top concern for businesses considering relocating to Ohio, said State Sen. Bill Beagle, R-Tipp City.

“They’re not going to come here unless, first and foremost, they can find the people they need to run the machines and do the computer work and make the sells,” Beagle said. “If we don’t have the people for the jobs, the jobs aren’t going to be here.”

Beagle said the grants will help employers more easily afford to hire interns, and the experience working with a local company may help keep more of Ohio’s college students in the state after graduation.

With the controlling board approval, the state can move forward with awarding the grants, said Ohio Board of Regents spokesman Jeff Robinson. The University of Cincinnati, Ohio State and Wright State universities were awarded the highest amounts, at $1.8 million, $1.5 million and $1.3 million, respectively.

“You can’t overstate the value and importance of the internship or co-op experience for Ohio’s students,” Robinson said.

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