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Workforce Development programs are not new. From the early beginnings in 1915 with programs designed to help newly arriving immigrants to the United States find work to today’s high-tech job matching systems, from assisting businesses streamline their production process to meet the challenges of World War I to helping today’s workers and employers to bridge the widening skills gap, from collecting and compiling unemployment data during the Great Depression to today’s retention and lay-off aversion initiatives, Workforce Development has been a part of America’s economic roller-coaster ride.

 

Big WIBThe former Workforce Investment Board of Lucas County celebrated its tenth year in existence under the Workforce Investment Act in 2013 by launching a series of programs and initiatives as well as reshaping the image of workforce development in Lucas County with a new name and brand. The WorkReady Lucas County program, in partnership with ACT will bridge the skills gap between open jobs and those individuals looking for work by providing training and assessments for workers tailored to meet the needs of employers.

 

In 2014, the United States Congress passed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act which replaced the Workforce Investment Act and has resulted in a shift toward a stronger focus on serving the needs of business and addressing the barriers to employment still facing many potential workers.  While the legislation improved several aspects of former workforce rules, most of the services provided by local American Job Centers – the local one-stop – were either left unchanged or were expanded.  The law calls for stronger collaboration between partners, enhanced engagement with groups providing services to people struggling to find employment and increased regionalism among workforce areas.  The change also mandated a restructured board with greater business representation and the local Workforce Investment Board became the Lucas County Workforce Development Board.

 

Using technology as a way to expand access to one-stop system services, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services launched eOMJ, a “virtual” one-stop concept and invited Lucas County to participate as part of the initial pilot project. The virtual system is being designed as a way to provide services to remote locations through online video workshops, interactive training programs and “chat-line” support to those unable to access physical centers.

 

OhioMeansJobs Lucas County, formerly The Source of Northwest Ohio, the Lucas County one-stop employment center that opened its doors in the summer of 2004 was renamed as part of a state-wide branding initiative. The center, also part of America's Job Center network,  continues to provide high quality assistance to job seekers while benefiting from being part or Ohio's OhioMeansJobs Center system.

 

Programs intended to streamline access to multiple training programs designed to assist businesses, “cradle-to-grave” initiatives for increasing educational achievement, cluster-based approaches to addressing the needs of emerging industries and projects for helping companies remain competitive in the rapidly changing global economy are all in development. The common thread connecting these and many more plans for the rebirth of Lucas County as a vibrant, dynamic and innovative economic center is a quality workforce. A workforce with the education and skills necessary to strengthen existing companies, grow emerging ones and attract tomorrows new employers.

 

Download our 10-year report or read it online at Issuu.  Read past reports online.