The state Senate could soon consider a bill that aims to simplify how Ohio businesses can create new job training certificates and industry-recognized credential programs.

House Bill 4 positions the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation as a “one-stop-shop” to liaise between the business community and officials at the departments of education and higher education.

Under the bill, businesses who believe the state needs a new job training certificate program would work with the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation. The agency would review the proposal and, in turn, work with state education officials to develop any necessary materials or curriculum.

“Cutting red tape and better connecting businesses with a skilled workforce keeps our promise to everyday Ohioans, that if you work hard and play by the rules, you’ll be able to get ahead and save for the future,” House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes, D-Akron, said in a news release. “Expanding opportunity and building an economy that works for everyone moves our state forward and restores our promise as an opportunity state.”

The Office of Workforce Transformation has three staff members, and its annual operating budget is about $800,000. The state transfers federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act dollars from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services to fund the office.

The bill, sponsored by Reps. Tracy Richardson, R-Marysville, and Phil Robinson, D-Solon, effectively formalizes a role the office currently performs. The office could need additional funding, but the amount depends on “the nature and volume of inquiries and how the state’s responses are implemented,” according to an analysis from the state’s Legislative Service Commission (LSC).

“With its passage, more new businesses will want to locate in Ohio to employ the skilled workforce found here, and current Ohio businesses will be able to cut through red tape around industry recognized credentials and certificates and spend more time focused on their core missions,” Richardson said in a news release. “Ultimately, Ohioans will benefit because they will be well prepared and trained to meet our changing workforce needs.”

The proposal received widespread bipartisan support, and the House passed the bill by an 89-0 margin.

“While affordable access to college is important for our children’s future, workforce training and certification are equally important ways for Ohioans to live their American dream,” Robinson said in a news release. “HB 4 will help expand workforce development options for workers looking to make a better life for themselves and their families. Ohioans don’t want a hand out, they want a leg up, and more training options means better paying jobs and careers.”

The Center Square Contributor