JACKSON — Ohio Lt. Governor Jon Husted visited Jackson County this past week, to put the spotlight on a workforce development program at the University of Rio Grande (URG) Jackson Campus, that is leveraging local industry partnerships to better prepare students for future careers.

“This is the kind of stuff that is working,” Husted told a crowd of local partners following a presentation by Amanda Ehman, the Director of Community Partnerships & Admissions Operations for URG.

“Having businesses inside the education system, and exposing them to career pathways out there are valuable,” Husted added.

He was joined by local manufacturing business leaders, elected officials, local school superintendents and others.

“What did we use to say in America?” Husted asked those in attendance, “We use to say, everybody needs to go to college... well not everybody needs to go to college, college has changed.”

He went on to speak about the importance and value of partnerships with manufacturing, businesses and education. Husted told some success stories as well.

He also mentioned Ohio’s “TechCred” program and the Individual Microcredential Assistance Program (IMAP).

Through TechCred, businesses can identify the specific qualifications they need and employees they want to upskill toward a more advanced position. In partnership with a training provider, the employer can apply online at TechCred.Ohio.Gov. The state will reimburse up to $2,000 of training upon completion of a credential.

The IMAP helps Ohioans who are low income, partially unemployed, or totally unemployed participate in a training program to receive a credential at no cost. Learn more online at https://development.ohio.gov/bs/bs_imap.htm.

Last school year, the University of Rio Grande, in partnership with Jackson County Jobs and Family Services, acquired a FANUC robot and six Allen Bradley mobile programmable logic controller (PLC) trainers through a grant awarded by the Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission.

Ehman, along with other URG staff, including the University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College President Ryan Smith, and Jackson County Department of Job and Family Services Director Tammy Osborne-Smith showed Husted the equipment mentioned above.

The single robot, which Rio staff showed off, is like the ones being used in local manufacturing plants in Jackson County. The robot is ideal for high-speed, precision applications. The mobile trainers offer a platform that enables students to perform a comprehensive range of programming tasks culminating in the control of the unit.

URG advised in the development of a first-ever high school manufacturing class by area manufacturing plants, including General Mills and Bellisio Foods. The class was held at Wellston High School last year, and had 10 students participate while working toward MSSC credentials and receiving college credit.

In addition to classroom and hands-on instruction, the students toured area manufacturing plants and received guidance on completing an application and interviewing skills. URG also has a manufacturing mobile trailer unit that can travel to businesses to provide training.

This coming school year, the manufacturing class will be expanded to include students from Jackson and Oak Hill and will be held in the manufacturing lab at the URG Jackson Campus.

Anyone (students or adults) interested in learning more about the manufacturing class can contact Rio Grand Jackson Center Director Beth Zinn at 740-288-0284.

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