Initiatives to Build Skills for New Jobs

While I’ve been at CALMC there have been significant swings in the Central Ohio job market. We have seen periods where jobs have been plentiful and others of high unemployment. In either case, it is important to plan for ways to handle any situation.

Fortunately, the Columbus Metropolitan Region has one of the lowest unemployment rates in this part of the state. Jobs are fairly plentiful, but that does create its own set of concerns.

One of the problems facing this region is the need for job candidates who have the skills necessary to fill newly created jobs. Prospective employers have raised concerns about the need for skilled applicants. This week, we would like to highlight two initiatives that will help develop needed skills in new employees.

The first one provides increased opportunities for high-school students to learn more about the skilled trades and apprenticeship opportunities. When I was a teacher, our students had many opportunities to learn about colleges,  many of which sent representatives to make presentations at school. Students were offered time during the school year to visit schools they considered. What was missing was information about opportunities other than traditional four-year colleges.

The school at which I taught sent around 60% of graduating seniors to some type of post-secondary education. Unfortunately, only about half of them completed a degree. These numbers indicate approximately 70% of our graduates did not complete college. These students would have benefited from learning more about opportunities for well-paying jobs that do not require a four-year degree. Unfortunately, information about these options is not always available to students.

To help remedy this, Ohio State Representative Mike Duffey (R-21) sponsored ”The Ohio High School Career Opportunity Act,” which guarantees representatives from the skilled trades and other type of career recruiters a minimum of two opportunities per year to speak to students about career paths in their fields. This can include information about apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs available to them

The bill recently passed the legislature and was signed by the Governor. Rep. Duffey also cited the support of organized labor, including Walt Workman of the Central Ohio Labor Council, AFL-CIO (and CALMC Labor Co-Chair), and Dorsey Hager, ‎Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the ‎Columbus/Central Ohio Building & Construction Trades Council.

We would like to thank Rep. Duffey for his sponsorship of this bill and the opportunities it opens to better provide access to information about job options for Ohio students.

We were also pleased to learn about the first graduating class of the Building Futures program. This initiative, which was funded in part by Franklin County, provides training to enable students to enter the construction trades.

Sponsors of the program include the Franklin County Department of Job and Family Services, Impact Community Action, and the Columbus Building Trades Council. The program is designed to help low-income residents enter the construction trades, including electrical and iron work, carpentry, painting, plumbing, and other fields.

Each of the twenty-one graduates will begin an apprenticeship through one of the local unions who sponsored the program, including Iron Workers Local 172, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 683 and Carpenter’s Local Union 200.

County Commissioner John O’Grady attended the graduation, and we want to commend him and the other commissioners for the support of this first class and the others to come this year.

These are two examples of how we can prepare students and others in the community to have the skills needed to fill the job openings in Columbus and Franklin County. Combined with the job training and recruitment efforts of the Workforce Development Board we reported a couple of weeks, ago, our area will be better prepared to attract more jobs.

About CALMC Blog

Columbus Area Labor-Management Committee is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to involving employers and employees to preserve jobs, resolve workplace issues, and promote labor-management cooperation. Visit our website at
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