Skilled Technical Workforce Program Extended to Unemployed Individuals

Addressing the Manufacturing Labor Shortage: Walsh University’s Innovative Skilled Technical Workforce Program Aimed at Upskilling the Workforce is Extended to Unemployed Individuals

The manufacturing industry in Ohio, like many other states, has been facing a significant labor shortage in recent years. To address this challenge and meet the demands of a technology-driven economy, Walsh University developed the Skilled Technical Workforce Program, an initiative that has been equipping businesses with practical technological solutions while also providing training and upskilling for the state’s workforce for the past three years. Courses place an emphasis on relevant core competencies which qualify employees for full tuition reimbursement for credentials earned under Ohio’s TechCred Program. Walsh is now extending these educational benefits at no cost to unemployed and underemployed individuals.

As a mission-driven Catholic university that serves to bring together the resources and assets of both the University and the wider community to help solve socioeconomic circumstances, Walsh University secured a congressional appropriation grant in fiscal year 2022 and began recruiting for the program in February 2023, offering soft skills including how to communicate effectively, manage their time, adapt to change, and manage conflicts in the workplace, in addition to essential Microsoft Office 365 techniques, the critical skills that employers are looking for in new hires.

Since receiving the grant, Walsh University has established collaborations with local organizations through Strengthening Stark and the Stark County Manufacturing Workforce Development Partnership to identify and recruit unemployed and under-represented populations into the training and assist them in finding and sustaining meaningful employment. To date, the program has had 92 enrollees, 53 of whom have completed the program, and 20 who now have jobs in the manufacturing industry.

 “Our goal was to provide a comprehensive solution, covering training costs and enabling other organizations to redirect their budgets toward crucial support services for long-term employment. The results have surpassed all expectations, and we’re incredibly proud of the progress we’ve achieved in a short amount of time,” said Dan Passerini, Ph.D., Walsh University’s Executive Director of Cross-Enterprise Operations. “We always saw the grant as more than just funding for Walsh. It was a community resource that allowed us to collaborate with local organizations and leverage this opportunity with their assets and strengths to create something unique. Our partnerships with Strengthening Stark, the Stark County Manufacturing Workforce Development Partnership and their community partners have been invaluable in recruiting and supporting these individuals.”

In addition to the grant-funded participants, the Skilled Technical Workforce Program has enrolled more than 70 companies and issued over 1,000 technology-based credentials to workers in topics including Microsoft Office, Data Analytics, Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA).

The program has been recognized by the National Science Board (NSB) as leading the nation in building innovative ways for academia and businesses to work together to create a more technology-competent workforce that is aligned with the NSB’s “Vision 2035” report which challenged our nation’s higher education to foster new and innovative approaches to meet the needs of businesses and provide relevant education and training programs that would prepare our workforce to be globally competitive and promote prosperity and national security.