To improve Ohio’s education and workforce, the Blueprint recommends that we lower barriers to employment, expand education and job training, increase Ohio’s population and attract workers from abroad, and modernize Ohio’s workforce for in-demand occupations.
In order to remove barriers to employment, the issue of childcare must be addressed. On average, baby care in Ohio is more expensive than renting. Additionally, sixty percent of rural Ohioans live in “childcare deserts,” meaning that childcare providers either do not exist or the few providers that do exist cannot keep up with the population. We can work to improve this metric by providing incentives for childcare startups in rural areas and further examining childcare regulations to identify possible reforms.
Other issues to consider when assessing barriers to employment include supporting labor force participation by those with criminal records, helping employers recruit and retain veterans and workers with disabilities, and pursuing strategies to reduce cliffs in welfare benefits.
The Business Education Network (BEN), a task force of business leaders focused on preschool through grade 12 education policy, programs and research, will help expand education and professional training. The US Chamber’s BEN was very successful; the Ohio Chamber plans to sponsor and direct its own. additionally draft promotes employer-led workplace training and ongoing education and training for mid-career workers.
Once these workers are properly trained, we must ensure they remain in Ohio to bolster our workforce rather than doing so elsewhere. An estimated 3.7 million native Ohioans have left the state for one reason or another, but they still have ties to Ohio, and we believe we can bring some of them back. Ohio has a low cost of living and a high quality of life; We just have to work to foster a more attractive and supportive culture to retain top talent.
Once we increase population and improve education, modernization of the Ohio workforce will follow. We must ensure an adequate labor supply for in-demand jobs, and we must promote STEM subjects at all levels of education to adequately prepare students for tomorrow’s jobs.
Improving education and the workforce is the first step in building Ohio’s economy and ensuring it is the best state for business. However, many more steps need to be taken. If you want to see the whole Blueprint for Ohio’s future or see the summary at ohiochamber.com/blueprint-page.
Steve Stivers is CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.