'We have to produce the next generation of talent,' Husted speaks with students about how to tackle worker shortage in Ohio

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Posted at 4:43 PM, May 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-19 19:11:41-04

MENTOR, Ohio — Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted made several stops in Northeast Ohio Wednesday, touting career, technical and vocational education as a way to address the ongoing hiring issue for businesses.

For some business owners, the shortage of qualified candidates predates the pandemic, while others are dealing with the onslaught now, incentivizing openings with sign-up bonuses and other new perks.

Right now on the OhioMeansJobs website, nearly 95,000 jobs are listed which pay at least $50,000/year. Another 2,800 internships are listed as well.

Leaders of local technical colleges and students took part in a roundtable discussion to tout one way to combat the worker shortage: Ohio's new high school "tech internship program," which gives employers the chance to connect with students and offer them positions focusing on specialties such as software and cybersecurity.

“We have pathways to free college, free industry certifications, and there’s a huge need for it,” Husted said. “We have to produce the next generation of talent.”

Those with Auburn Career Center, Lake Erie College, Malish Corporation, and Cornerstone IT were among those on hand to talk about their high school tech internship program.

“There’s just a skills gap that isn’t being fulfilled,” Jeff Slavkovsky, executive director of career and technical education at Auburn Career Center said. “People are overqualified or underqualified and not getting that sweet spot in the middle.”

Slavkovsky told News 5 his team continues to deal with more phone calls from employers than ever before.

While Husted spoke inside Cornerstone IT’s office in Mentor, eight other businesses located in and around the neighboring office park had signs posted outside, advertising job openings.

As for how to fix this worker shortage and the factors that contribute to it, the lieutenant governor told News 5 the recent shift back to the old rules when it comes to unemployment should help, as well as his current push for more state funding for technical education and career training, especially in high schools

“Governor DeWine and I have asked for them to fund these priorities,” he said. “If they fund them, we’re going to have tens of thousands of more people every year trained for the jobs being created in the economy. That's essential.”

The state legislature is expected to pass a budget on or before June 30.