New program geared to vocational training

Published 10:23 am Thursday, August 13, 2015

Seeing vocational needs and filling them has inspired the creation of a five-party collaboration between colleges and a center for economic development in the region to offer specialized training.

On Monday those involved will meet at The Point industrial park for a ribbon cutting ceremony to kick off the Regional Higher Education Collaborative.

“Lawrence County has long been without an institution to offer many of the technical training and degree programs traditionally offered by community colleges,” Dr. Nicole Pennington, dean of Ohio University Southern, said. “Workforce development is a top priority and this, with all the support of the partnering organizations, can make significant progress in this endeavor and help Ohio citizens fill the jobs that are here and the jobs that will continue to become available in our state.”

The collaborative, made up of OUS, University of Rio Grande, Shawnee State University and Southern State Community College, will be headquartered in a 15,000-square-foot building at The Point. Renovations, lease and operating costs there will total $1 million, covered from an allocation from the state budget.

“That has a lot of open space that will be converted into classrooms,” said Dr. Bill Dingus, executive director of the Lawrence Economic Development Corporation.

The concept began following an occupational forecasting study at the Ohio University regional campuses, according to Pennington.

“Findings identified the need for additional technical trainings not offered in Lawrence County,” Pennington said. “Programming will be based on interest and need. The study documented the crucial role of the following industries: manufacturing, logistics, health care, safety and security.”

In no way will the collaborative attempt to compete with curricula at Collins Career Center, she said.

The collaborative has a target date of spring semester of the 2015-2016 academic year.

“Ohio University Southern’s role will be to offer general education courses in partnership with the degree granting institutions,” Pennington said. “The funding that has been provided to Ohio University Southern will be used to pay a five- year lease of the training center which will include renovation and operating costs.”

Dr. Scott Howard, director of the Ohio Strategic Training Center, will be coordinator.

“This is so important to our region,” Dingus said. “Education is the one thing you cannot take away from people. Once a person has developed a skill, that skill will open up future opportunities.”

The ribbon cutting will start at 10 a.m.