Collaboration is key to closing the local labor gap | News, Sports, Jobs

Various public and private entities in the Mahoning Valley are collaborating to execute a state-organized initiative to fill the talent gap in the workforce. And it works.

It works through structure, communication, strong local leadership and funding. Many organizations in the region are benefiting from the investment, as are job seekers, many of whom have been displaced during the pandemic.

The initiative is called “Ohio at work”, and the credit for that goes to JobsOhio, the state’s private, nonprofit economic development corporation. Through the collective leadership and vision of Governor Mike DeWine, Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted, and JobsOhio President and CEO JP Nauseef, the workforce development issue was identified, a plan was developed to address this and financial resources have been allocated.

The concept was piloted in Cleveland in 2020 and expanded to four other regions in 2021, including the Mahoning Valley. It runs through the rest of this year.

Ohio To Work, what is it exactly?

Ohio To Work is an answer to the multi-layered question seemingly on everyone’s mind: “What are we doing to remedy the labor shortage? » Ohio To Work helps displaced and at-risk Ohio workers find new employment or seek retraining opportunities for in-demand jobs by matching workers with training providers, career support and an employer network .

It leverages our regional asset, JobsOhio network partner TeamNEO, and community assets such as the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition (MVMC), local OhioMeansJobs offices, Flying High, National Center for Urban Solutions, United Returning Citizens, local careers and technical schools, Youngstown State University, Eastern Gateway Community College and others; and that increases the volume of what they are already doing.

At the same time, it brings these organizations together to share best practices, tell each other about each other’s successes, and jointly scale up their outreach efforts, such as with job fairs and marketing initiatives. Hiring companies are also asked to commit to hiring job seekers identified by Ohio To Work.

I am not looking for a job. Why should I care about Ohio To Work?

Not all of us actively seek work, but we all depend on the goods and services produced and offered in manufacturing plants and healthcare facilities, as well as technology integrators. These are the priority industries with Ohio To Work. And when Ohio gets back to work, we’ll all win.

Here’s how the local partners implemented Ohio To Work: MVMC serves as the local operations manager and coordinates the entire initiative. They engage local workforce development partners such as Flying High, National Center for Urban Solutions, OhioMeansJobs in Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbiana counties and United Returning Citizens to identify, recruit and train candidates so that they are ready to fill available local jobs.

The Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber adds its wide range of local businesses looking to fill vacancies to the mix, which is the #1 problem its members are currently facing. Labor shortages are reducing growth opportunities for many Mahoning Valley employers – it’s not just about needing employees to meet the basic needs of an operation.

Delayed shipments, missed deliveries and capacity constraints can cause manufacturers’ customers to cancel orders and seek alternative suppliers. Hospitals are asking employees to do more and risk burning them out as they try to maintain the highest standards of care despite understaffing. Computing is also a growing industry and cannot afford to fall behind as more technologies are added to our daily lives and those of many businesses in the region.

By working together and adding funds to increase marketing, recruiting, coaching and training, Ohio To Work has proven to be both an injection into the economic engine of our valley – with most dollars remaining local – and a pathway to a rewarding, long-term career. opportunities for our unemployed, underemployed and recently graduated local workforce.

We salute JobsOhio for not only funding Ohio To Work, but for including the Mahoning Valley in its reach. A pilot program launched in Cleveland in 2020 was expanded to Columbus, Cincinnati-Dayton, Toledo and here a year later. Ohio To Work is well on its way to achieving its desired goals of attracting much-needed talent and employing the state’s displaced workers.

We also commend the collaborative spirit of local entities receiving funding from JobsOhio. It is an honor to be entrusted with the stewardship of these funds – funds intended to address such important and meaningful issues for our fellow Ohioans, on both the employer and employee side of the equation.

To learn more about the local Ohio To Work initiative, visit

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Michael A. Bynum