Recommendations from Gov. John Kasich's Executive Workforce Board to embed career learning throughout the educational system would go into effect under legislation heard Wednesday in the Senate Transportation, Commerce and Workforce committee.
Sen. Bill Beagle (R-Tipp City) explained that SB3, jointly sponsored by Sen. Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville) includes some of those recommendations, which were presented to and endorsed by Kasich in December. (See The Hannah Report, 12/13/16.) He said the proposal would work in tandem with other workforce and education provisions of the executive budget.
Major provisions of the bill include the following, according to Beagle:
- Development of a recognized pre-apprenticeship career pathway for career-technical education students.
- Giving the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction authority to expedite issuance of "certificates of qualification for employment." Beagle said currently former inmates must wait a certain period after their incarceration before getting the certificates.
- Creation of a STEAM designation to add art and design into the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) curriculum of certain STEM schools, and to allow the schools to serve students as young as kindergarten.
- Require the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) and Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) to work with businesses to create a strategic plan to increase project-based learning and develop professional development programs that address building such learning into curriculum.
- Requiring ODE and ODHE to develop a Regional Workforce Career Counseling Collaboration model to provide career services to students.
- Promoting an annual "Ohio In-Demand Jobs Week."
- Developing an "OhioMeansJobs-Ready Certificate" for high school students who demonstrate certain work skills and competencies.
- Updating Ohio law to conform with the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).
Sen. Frank LaRose (R-Copley), the committee chairman, asked Beagle about that last point, saying he's always leery of the unintended consequences of incorporation by reference of federal laws. Beagle said he'd get him more details about the specifics of those provisions.
LaRose also asked if trade unions will be involved in development of the pre-apprenticeships. Beagle said they're represented on the Executive Workforce Board and are often also involved in assisting local career centers around the state.
LaRose also suggested addressing employers' concerns about lack of job candidates who can pass a drug test, saying a career center in his district in Wayne County had secured grant funding to support a "drug free" club that would certify students as such. Beagle said the OhioMeansJobs-Ready Certificate program addressed in the bill could potentially include a voluntary drug-screening element along those lines.
Sen. Edna Brown (D-Toledo) asked if more funding to career-technical education programs is warranted.
"I would be open to any ideas," Beagle responded. "If we have programs that really work, if employers are finding a source of workers with the skills they really need, those are certainly worthy of public investment."
Balderson said business owners often want to get involved and are even willing to provide financial support, but the issue is getting the educators and the business owners to communicate.