When Gov. Mike DeWine spoke to the Ohio Business Roundtable on Monday, he was promoting his proposed budget items of course, but also making some important points about the future of work in the Buckeye State. The large employers we hope to continue to attract will need well-qualified candidates to fill all those positions. Right now, Ohio is not doing a very good job of convincing high school graduates to stay here and pursue the kinds of college degrees that might help them do so.
Pat Tiberi, the president and CEO of the business roundtable, said Ohio is worst in the Midwest for funding for need-based financial aid for higher education, according to The Columbus Dispatch. But DeWine says he has a plan to make progress on that front. His budget proposal includes expanding the Ohio College Opportunity grant to provide $6,000 scholarships to an additional 15,000 applicants. Another proposed scholarship would provide $20,000 to graduating high school students in the top 5 percent of their class (awarded as $5,000 each year for four years.)
“They get them, and then they can go out among our 14 public universities in the state of Ohio or more than 50 of our independent colleges and universities,” DeWine said, according to the Dispatch. “As long as they’re going to a four-year school in the state of Ohio.”
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted chimed in on the impending workforce crisis should we fail to get ahead of it now.
“Ohio and every state that borders Ohio is projected to have fewer people in the working-age workforce during the next 10 years and that key demographic of 25-60,” Husted said. “The baby boom generation has retired, subsequent generations don’t have as many children and, therefore, the workforce is shrinking.”
Having enough well-qualified and capable people in Ohio to fill the jobs we say we want to attract is just one piece of the puzzle, but a crucial one. Taxpayers can’t do all the heavy lifting, but this proposal appears to be one that would provide a substantial return on investment.
And it would send a message to our young people.
“It’s not about what they need, it’s about what we need,” Husted said. “We need them.”