This week, House Bills 2 and 4 passed through the Ohio House Economic and Workforce Development Committee. The Ohio Chamber of Commerce supported both pieces of legislation through the committee process and believe that both bills will be helpful to employers in attempting to bridge the workforce gap.
HB 2, a key initiative of Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted, would create the TechCred program. This program is designed to assist employers in “upskilling” their existing workforce as well as attracting prospective employees. Last week, HB 2 was amended to include many changes, most of which we supported. The Ohio Chamber testified in support of the legislation on Wednesday. Highlights of the 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.
HB 4 requires the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation to act as a liaison between the business community and the Department of Education or the Chancellor of Higher Education regarding industry-recognized credentials or certificate programs. This codifies some already existing practices and efforts that Ohio employers engage in, but it also works to streamline some of the bureaucratic processes that are currently in place. The Ohio Chamber sent a letter to the House Economic and Workforce Development Committee supporting this effort.
Following Wednesday’s committee hearing, both bills moved forward in the legislative process. HB 4 was moved to the House Floor for a full vote where it passed unanimously. HB 2 was referred to the House Finance Committee for further deliberation on the bill due to the appropriation that is included in the bill in order to fund the program.
It is our hope that both bills move quickly through the legislative process in order to help Ohio businesses as they deal with one of the biggest issues they are facing today, workforce development and workforce shortages.