This week, the Ohio House Economic and Workforce Development Committee accepted a sub-bill version of House Bill 2. This piece of legislation is designed to help employers “upskill” their current and prospective workforce.
Highlights of the sub-bill are as follows:
- Expands the definition of “microcredential” to mean an industry-recognized credential or certificate that an individual may complete in one year or less.
- Allows for an open enrollment period for employers to apply for the grant program.
- Removes the wage requirement that was included in the as-introduced version of the bill but does allow for employers to include potential wage increases in their application.
- Expands the list of organizations that may be members of an industry sector partnership to further the shared goal of meeting the industry cluster’s human resources needs.
For all the changes that occurred with the sub-bill, there is a comparison document that outlines all of the changes. However, there is one portion of the sub-bill that we do want to take a further look at as we move forward. There is a provision to prohibit an employer from requiring a prospective or current employee to accept or stay in employment with the employer upon completion of the program. That, coupled with the limit on the grant total going from $5,000 to a minimum of $500 and a maximum of $2,000, could potentially leave employers footing the bill outside of what they receive back from the state.
For this purpose, we would like to see that requirement not be part of the proposal as it may not be necessary. This program does allow for a lot of flexibility and competition for the grants for employers, and that is a welcome change.
Given that workforce shortages remain a huge issue for the Ohio business community, we are closely monitoring this bill. We do anticipate that HB 2 will move quickly and look forward to supporting the bill, but offer some of the potential changes mentioned above.