A $2.5 million workforce proposal from County Executive Armond Budish would focus on filling thousands of openings with skilled candidates.
(TNS) — CLEVELAND, Ohio — Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish proposed a sweeping initiative Monday to train under-skilled county residents to fill thousands of available jobs in health care, manufacturing and technology.
Budish told County Council that his $2.5 million Workforce Connect effort would use both tax dollars and private-sector contributions to fund as many as three go-between organizations that would coordinate the training of workers.
"We've had this disconnect for as long as most people can remember where employers are looking for people who have skills and qualifications to fill jobs, and they say they can't fill them," Budish told cleveland.com. "Yet at the same time, there are thousands of people looking for jobs or looking to improve [their skills]."
Council's Economic Development & Planning Committee discussed the proposal Monday. Committee members plan to hold more hearings before deciding whether to allow up to $1 million in county funds to the initiative.
Budish acknowledged that many job-training programs funded by public and private dollars already exist. But he said he envisions making more efficient the process of matching potential employees to unfilled jobs in high-demand fields in the county.
"We wanted to look at what the jobs were that are causing the concern -- where are those jobs open and where will those jobs be in the next few years," Budish said.
If County Council approves, the county would contribute up to $1 million to Workforce Connects over three years. That money would come from the Health and Human Services levy that was passed by voters in May.
The other portion, up to $1.5 million, would come from a private-public partnership comprised of the City of Cleveland, Cleveland Foundation, Deaconess Foundation, Fund for Our Economic Future, Greater Cleveland Partnership, The George Gund Foundation, Cleveland/Cuyahoga County Workforce Development Board, TeamNEO and United Way of Greater Cleveland.
The first go-between organization would be created for manufacturing jobs, and could begin in January 2019. The technology and health care organizations would be created later next year.
Councilwoman Nan Baker questioned why the money would be taken from the Health and Human Services levy, and if there would be overlap between Workforce Connect and other established economic development initiatives. David Merriman, assistant director of Health and Human Services, said some of those dollars are specifically set aside for workforce development, and urged the need for a coordinated effort across agencies.
Deborah Vesy, CEO of Deaconess Foundation, said the initiative is not intended to be one of many job training programs, but rather a systematic effort that seeks to involve employers in filling positions that offer family-sustaining wages.
Committee chairman Jack Schron said there was no doubt that County Council wants to see more technology, health care and manufacturing positions filled, but said there was doubt about the techniques Workforce Connect might use to accomplish that goal.
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