Facility will offer programs aimed at filling the skills gap in local workforce –
By Patricia Beech –
Adams County residents have struggled against the tide of poor economic conditions longer than most care to remember. Struggling to stay afloat during hard times and good times has become a way of life and the only measure of success for far too many hardworking people in the county.
With a high school drop out rate of 23.1 %, an unemployment rate well above 6%, and nearly 26% of the population relying on government subsidies, “the need to move beyond “distressed” may have reached its peak”. The good news is a light appears to be flickering at the end of the tunnel.
Southern State Community College is poised to kick off an economic upswing and punch holes in the county’s over-inflated unemployment rate by building a Workforce Development Center and Satellite Campus in Adams County. Putting people back to work by providing them with necessary skills and improving the regions competitive economic edge are the driving factors in the college’s decision to build the new facility.
According to a CNN report, America has millions of job openings – more than at any point since 2000, but companies aren’t finding the right people to fill those jobs because of a persistent “skills gap” among workers.
The skills gap is that space between what employers need and what job seekers are offering. According to one report, last year 39% of American employers reported difficulty filling jobs due to lack of available talent.
Over the next five years baby boomer retirements and economic expansion are expected to result in over three and half million jobs being created. Many of these jobs provide a middle-class wage without requiring a traditional four-year college degree. However, the skills gap is also expected to result in 2 million of those jobs going unfilled.
The SSCC facility is aimed at positioning county residents and local communities to take advantage of that economic recovery by filling the skills gap through workforce development and higher education.
The college is partnering with local high schools, the county Career and Technical Center, local employers, and social service agencies to prepare a new field of talent for jobs in manufacturing, computer technology, and health care. Short-term workforce training options complementing existing CTC programs, as well as a variety of associate degree programs and pathways for advanced education will be available to students.
Additionally, SSCC will expand existing Adult Basic Literacy and Education (ABLE) and GED programming to reach more students.
The new facility will include space for workforce training, traditional classrooms, and student/community support services. The roughly 25,000 square foot space will be constructed in close proximity to the CTC, West Union High School and Elementary, and within reasonable driving distance of Peebles, Seaman, and Manchester.
According to a SSCC press release, the college’s Trustees have pledged their full commitment to Adams County by selecting it as the only capital funding request in H.B. 497 (2013), pledging the proceeds from the sale of the former South Campus in Sardinia, seeking funding through various private and public entities through formal and informal requests, and positioning the project for additional funding in the upcoming 2016 Capital Bill which was signed by Governor Kasich last month.
Since 1975, Southern State has been serving the entire southern Ohio region. As a leader in preparing students for local and surrounding workforce demands, the College boasts over 7,000 graduates, many of which live or have close ties to Adams County. Southern State has effectively partnered with all of the Adams County schools to assist families in leveraging the resources presented by Ohio’s legislative opportunities. Public, private, governmental, and agency partnerships and collaborations speak to the shared desire to position Adams County as a driver of economic growth and economic attractiveness.