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Making workers skilled

On Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, made a return visit to Lawrence County, taking part in a lunch discussion with local business leaders and officials at the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce in South Point.

The visit was part of three day, 750-mile tour the senator was making across southern Ohio, where he hosted similar discussions in various cities and villages.

Portman was promoting the his bipartisan JOBS Act legislation, which he said will help more Ohioans get the skills and training they need to find in-demand jobs by expanding access to Pell Grants for low-income students.

Portman pointed out that there are thousands of jobs listed on Ohio’s workforce site, but, in many cases, there is a lack of qualified applicants to fill them.

Portman’s legislation would offer grants for those attending training for as little as eight weeks.

Some critics have said this money would be better spent on traditional college programs.

Yet, for some, college may not necessarily be the best path. With plenty of employment opportunities based in skills and trades, there are other paths they can pursue.

With Pell grants covering training, it can be a preferable alternative to students to running up tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt.

While it is important that access to college be expanded to anyone who seeks it, it is also important to consider other options and make those available to students.

We welcome the discussion around Portman’s legislation and hope leaders work out a solid plan for the future workforce.