Senate Bill 3 Connects Business and Education

On March 5, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce testified on a handful of workforce development provisions contained in Senate Bill 3. This legislation is a reintroduction of a bill that Sen. Beagle sponsored last general assembly with some additional workforce provisions added by the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation.

Most primary and secondary school teachers are well qualified and understand the importance of their role in educating our children. However, there is currently no consistent or uniform method in which schools are connecting with businesses. The provisions added to SB 3 reinforce the theme that educators and employers need improved collaboration.

There are four provisions of SB 3 in which the Ohio Chamber testified in support. The first being a regionally coordinated workforce counseling model.  This provision will connect high school students with job shadowing, co-op and internship opportunities. We feel that the counseling will allow students to discover first-hand what they enjoy and potentially lead them toward a career or educational path.

Another provision that connects students with the workforce is one that gives career-technical students the option to enter into approved pre-apprenticeship programs. The Ohio Chamber feels that providing employers the ability to educate about their trades while at the same time allowing students to explore potential careers is a win-win.

Another provision of SB 3 that is aimed at strengthening Ohio’s workforce is the OhioMeansJobs-Ready seal. This seal will be affixed to the diplomas of high school graduates that have demonstrated job ready skills and competencies. The majority of the skills being assessed are “soft skills” which Ohio Chamber members maintain are vital to almost any job or profession. These skills include teamwork, problem solving, reliability and punctuality.

The Ohio Chamber supports the creation of an “In-Demand Jobs Week” which SB 3 designates as the first week of May.  During this week, businesses will have the opportunity to showcase the types of opportunities they offer.  Middle-School and High-School students and their parents will be permitted to take tours of local or regional businesses.  All of the above provisions are merely pieces of the workforce development pie but should improve collaboration in a meaningful way.

Finally, during Wednesday’s hearing, the Senate Transportation, Commerce and Workforce Committee unanimously passed SB 3.  Prior to passage, Senator Beagle offered a substitute bill which made a handful of changes to the original bill, however, none were substantive in nature.