Special to The Collegian

Lorain County Community College has been partnering with local businesses to study and cater to their need for skilled workers. The college also has been developing special courses to prepare laid-off workers to re-enter the work force, said LCCC President Roy Church in his welcome speech at President Barack Obama’s visit on April 18.

Obama was accompanied by Hilda Solis, secretary of Labor; and Jane Oates, assistant secretary of the Employment and Training Administration of the Department of Labor.

It was Obama’s second visit. The president visited the campus in January 2010 for a town-hall meeting.

“As a region, we are at a pivotal moment,” Church said. “Our ability to help companies grow jobs relies on having a ready talent pool. Just yesterday, the college proudly hosted over one hundred employers at a career fair – all of whom have jobs to fill.  That is great news!”

Many of these jobs are very different from even a few years ago.

Ensuring that LCCC and its workforce partners are offering the right training and education to prepare people for these jobs is our highest priority, according to Church.  “Lorain County leaders have long recognized the importance of coordinating our efforts to meet the needs of employers and keep our residents employed,” Church said. “With limited resources in all systems, we all benefit when we coordinate efforts. One of the ways we do that in Lorain County is by partnering to administer our work force investment resources for the greatest impact on you, the residents of our community.”

LCCC is a partner in managing our local employment One Stop, known as the Employment Network.
Established in 1996, the Employment Network represents collaboration between the Lorain County Commissioners, Lorain County Joint Vocational School, LCCC as well as a variety of business, industry and education partners.
This partnership greatly enhances the “systems” ability to serve both employers and job seekers.

Individuals can access the same services at LCCC, LCJVS or at the One-Stop main location.  In fact, LCCC hosts a branch of the Employment NetWork on our Enrollment and Career Services Mainstreet, sharing a facility with a branch of the public library.

The University Partnership is a program that offers more than 40 advanced degree programs from nine partnering universities at LCCC campus for a one-third of the cost of the same degree when taken at the university.

“LCCC, LCJVC and other such educational institutions have a responsibility to grow talent to match jobs,” Church said, adding that LCCC works with employers to understand their talent needs and then “determine a strategy for how we can most efficiently meet those needs.  We are able to take that experience and put it to work through our partnership with regional economic development leaders as part of the 2011 Jobs Accelerator initiative.”

Last fall, LCCC in partnership with NorTech, Magnet and Jumpstart was selected as one of 20 grantees nationwide for the Jobs Accelerator funding focused on the clusters of flexible electronics and alternative energy.

To thrive, a community needs to grow jobs, as well.  Lorain County has a long track record of proactively supporting entrepreneurship and job growth.

In 1980, 43 percent of residents in the county worked in manufacturing.  Today, it is 16 percent, while manufacturing contributes about as much to the Gross National Product (GDP) as it did in 1980, according to Church.
“Technological advances are the primary reason.  So, we have been working hard, with our partners, to grow new jobs in advanced manufacturing to replace some of those we have lost,” he said.