$5 million bioscience workforce training grant targets Ohio’s displaced workers

February 12, 2010

BioOhio and partners have been awarded a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration to implement the Ohio Bioscience Industry Workforce Preparedness project.

The three-year project will provide training to 660 displaced or underemployed workers in declining industries to become better equipped for careers in Ohio’s growing bioscience industry. In addition, 40 incumbent workers will receive more advanced training to move into higher level jobs, creating new entry level job opportunities for unemployed adults.

Partners in the statewide project consortium include Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, Columbus State Community College, Cuyahoga Community College, Lakeland Community College, Owens Community College, and Sinclair Community College, with strong support from the Ohio Board of Regents. More than half of the funding, $2,812,500, will be designated for tuition reimbursement and trainee scholarships.

“The bioscience industry continues to grow and will be a key component of our economic recovery,” said U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown. “These funds will allow BioOhio to continue to transform the workforce development system for this emerging industry and create new jobs for Ohioans. A skilled workforce is a critical component of economic development and job creation.”

“Bioscience’s emergence as a key growth industry in Ohio can only be maintained with an abundance of well qualified workers,” BioOhio President and CEO Tony Dennis said. “This project enables BioOhio and its community college partners to accelerate the growth of high paying bioscience jobs by producing well-qualified workers.”

Project activity will focus on four regions in Ohio, which include five mixed urban/suburban metropolitan areas: Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton and Toledo. In each region, consortium colleges will serve as the regional project leaders, heading up a team of employers, workforce agencies, labor groups, and community partners. CAEL (The Council for Adult & Experiential Learning), a national non-profit organization focused on workforce development and adult learning, will serve a technical assistance role.
Each regional team, with guidance from BioOhio, will refine recruitment, assessment, support, placement and retention strategies to ensure trainee success. Most of the training within the project will provide participants with an industry recognized credential. Participants who enroll in training activities which don’t result in a credential will receive course credits.

Eleven biomedical employers have formally committed to partnering on the project, with additions possible in the coming months.

  • NE Ohio: Ben Venue Laboratories, STERIS, Affymetrix
  • Central Ohio: Roxane, PharmaForce, International Specialty Products
  • Southwest Ohio: Amylin, Alkermes, Eurand, IMDS
  • Northwest Ohio: NAMSA.

These employers will play a critical role in helping develop more completely articulated industry career pathways and ensuring that the knowledge and skills needed to perform successfully in their industry are adequately addressed. They also have pledged to consider qualified applicants who complete project training programs for openings in their organizations.

“Ohio is becoming the ideal location for getting bioscience products to market,” said BioOhio Senior Director of Workforce Bill Tacon. “Workers completing this training will directly contribute to Ohio’s strengths, especially in manufacturing and testing.”

The Ohio Department of Development’s Regional Workforce Development Directors and Business Service Representatives will promote the new program to displaced workers and encourage bioscience employers to draw their emerging workforce from this labor pool.

On news of the grant, Joseph P. Rugola, President of the Ohio AFL-CIO said, “Ohio’s workforce is second to none, and this grant can help jumpstart new bioscience careers for Ohio’s displaced trade unionists.”

“The award of this grant not only confirms the importance of the bioscience sector in Ohio,” commented Cuyahoga Community College’s John Gajewski, “it also provides the support to develop the human resources needed to grow the sector in our state.”