$4M Grant to Fund Workforce Training Program

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A partnership led by Flying High Inc. will help prepare local individuals for careers in health care and advanced manufacturing using a $4 million federal grant.

The Mahoning Valley Partnership for Employment will aim to equip people, with a focus on veterans and those with criminal records, with skills in the high-demand fields as part of the $150 million TechHire Partnership initiative announced Monday by the U.S. Department of Labor.

The partnership expects to begin enrollment in the training programs in late January, said Jeffrey Magada, Flying High’s executive director.

Incorporated in 1993 as the League of Champions, Youngstown-based Flying High provides a range of programs including employment assistance,  alcohol and drug treatment, job training and even agriculture programs. The program got its unofficial start during Magada’s time as supervisor of the Austintown Police Department’s juvenile diversion program, when he coordinated a team of eight young men’s participation  in a touch football league sponsored by the Mahoning County Juvenile court.

The funds over the course of the four-year grant will be used to “put together bridges with accelerated [job-training] programs,” Magada said. Flying High will offer training through its Professional Development Center as well as partner with programs offered by Choffin Career & Technical Center, Eastern Gateway Community College  and other providers.

“It’s a perfect partnership of employment to meet the needs of this area,” Magada said. Employers need people with skills who can pass background checks and drug screenings.

MVPE will focus on advanced manufacturing, specifically welding, and the health care industry, Magada said

“We will be able to put together bridges with an accelerated program,” he explained. For example, an individual will be able to train to become a state nested nursing assistant and have those skills transfer into a licensed practical nursing program, then will be able to go into Eastern Gateway’s two-year program to go from being an LPN to a registered nurse.

Despite the focus on veterans and individuals with criminal records, “the target population is really anybody,” Magada said.

Vice President Joe Biden held a conference call Monday to outline the program.

“We’re better positioned to own the 21st century than any country anywhere in the world. We just have to give our workers a fair chance,” he said. “Let them be trained for the jobs of the future.”

Of those future jobs, 1.3 million are going to be in information technology alone, and 40% don’t require a full four-year degree, Biden said.

Of the 5.8 million current U.S. job openings, more than 600,000 are in the high-tech area, “where employers are struggling to fill those jobs,” said Megan Smith, U.S. chief technology officer. Smith, along with Labor Secretary Thomas Perez and Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry, joined Biden on the call.

“These are [information technology] jobs that are not just in our really strong tech centers in companies like Facebook or Apple, but they’re also in our local hospitals, factories, banks. In fact, two-thirds of these jobs are outside the IT sector. “

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.