Last month, Ohio governor Mike DeWine announced Intel’s commitment to build a new computer chip manufacturing facility near Columbus. The state offered nearly $2B in incentives to land the plant. The combination of tax breaks and incentives are thought to be the largest in US history. Intel hopes the facility will address the supply chain issues that have led to chronic chip shortages. Area community colleges are trying to determine how to address Intel’s workforce readiness needs.
This is the second time in as many months that Michigan – with all its manufacturing mojo – has lost out on a major manufacturing investment. Granted, there are many variables that go into the decision to locate a manufacturing facility in a specific place. One of them is workforce readiness.
In its decision to locate manufacturing facilities in Kentucky and Tennessee, Ford specifically identified local workforce readiness as one deciding factor. Intel’s commitment means that Ohio will land at least 3,000 new jobs with an average salary of $135,000 plus benefits.
Nothing better illustrates the danger of our community college’s decision to divert funds away from instruction to pay the useless debts of the Health and Fitness Center. Or the “Advanced Transportation Center.” Or a hotel and convention center, complete with retail spaces in the parking lots. None of these pointless endeavors will entice a major employer to commit to building a facility here. Nor will they increase workforce readiness one bit.
In fact, they will do the opposite. By NOT preparing the workforce for new industries and new opportunities, the actions of our community college administration all but guarantee that this area will see no new employers and no new jobs.
Workforce readiness determines job opportunities
Ultimately, the Trustees are responsible for directing the College administration. Instead of developing programs that anticipate emerging needs, the Administration is making plans build “retail outlots” in the WCC parking lots. Instead of developing academic programs that lead to high-salary positions, they’re issuing press releases about 4-week training programs that lead to $12-per-hour jobs. There are only two possible explanations for this, and neither of them are good. Either the Trustees are asleep at the wheel, or they have directed the College administration to waste our tax dollars.
We need Trustees who advocate for the community and insist the College administration focus on workforce readiness. Wasting our education tax dollars on hotels and health clubs won’t produce one single high-salary position. Employers take note when the local community college does not offer academic programs and produce graduates that meet their needs.
They literally take their business elsewhere.
Photo Credit: Fritzchen Fritz , via Flickr