Owens to aid in workforce training with federal grant fundsWritten by Duane Ramsey | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Owens Community College is one of six colleges in Ohio partnering with BioOhio to use 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 program will provide training for 700 displaced or unemployed workers in declining industries and encourage workers to become better qualified for careers in Ohio’s growing biomedical industry. More than half of the funding, $2.8 million is dedicated to tuition reimbursement for workers participating in the program.
“The industry will help to shape the programs that will be offered to workers who have been displaced by automotive manufacturing to get the skills needed to work in bioscience,” said Bill Tacon, senior director of workforce for BioOhio, a non-profit, biomedical industry organization that represents 275 members in the state.
The project will provide training suitable for entry-level employment in Ohio’s bioscience industry. That includes pharmaceutical, medical devices and biotechnology.
The program at Owens will include certificates and non-degree courses in general laboratory skills, regulatory compliance for medical devices and food processing, pharmaceutical, medical device and equipment manufacturing.
“We’ve already received a ton of phone calls from companies and students interested in the training programs,” said Mark Durivage, dean of the School of Technology at Owens.
LexaMed, a pharmaceutical device company based in Toledo for 25 years, expressed an interest in the training programs available through Owens and BioOhio. The firm provides consulting and contract laboratory services for the pharmaceutical, medical device and biotechnology industries.
Both Durivage and Tacon anticipate that the program will include courses to convert workers from automotive and traditional manufacturing jobs to bioscience and food process manufacturing. Owens already offers a biomedical electronics course to train people in the automation of medical records, according to Durivage.
Each regional team will refine recruitment, assessment and placement strategies to ensure the successful training of workers to meet the local demand. Durivage will attend a kick-off meeting for the project at BioOhio in Columbus March 3.
Tacon said that getting the federal grant was the result of the collaborative partnership between BioOhio, the community colleges, bioscience companies, labor and business organizations.
Eleven biomedical employers in the state have committed to partnering on the project with more expected to join the effort. These employers will play a critical role in helping to develop career pathways ensuring that knowledge and skills required to perform successfully in their industry will be adequately addressed, according to Tacon.
One of the business partners involved in the grant process was North American Sciemce Associates, Inc. (NAMSA) based near Owens.
“We were one of several firms that lent its support to obtaining the grant,” said Joel Gorski, director of research and development for NAMSA. “We’re an organization that could benefit from the number of people trained and the depth of their training with these programs.”
NAMSA has been a leading medical device research and testing organization specializing in the safety evaluation of medical devices, packaging materials and pharmaceutical products for 40 years, according to the company.
LexaMed and NAMSA are among 75 bioscience companies in Northwest Ohio that could benefit from such workforce training programs.