YSU Joins ‘Forward Ohio’ to Close Attainment Gap

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Youngstown State University is joining Ohio’s 13 other public universities to launch Forward Ohio, a statewide campaign to raise awareness of the value of public higher education, spur efforts to close the state’s college attainment gap and mobilize support for enhanced investment in public higher education.

“Ohio’s well-documented ‘talent gap’ is more than just the latest workforce challenge; it’s a looming crisis,” YSU President Jim Tressel said. “Our ability to attract and retain jobs is the key to Ohio’s economic future and hinges, to a large degree, on the educational attainment levels of our citizens. In addition, higher education is the key to creating economic opportunity for Ohioans seeking to start a career or transition to a new career.”

Tressel noted that a recent poll showed 85% of Ohioans agree that a four-year degree from a public university in Ohio prepares students for a good job in today’s economy.

“I urge this large majority of citizens to stand with me and my fellow public university presidents to advocate for a strong and productive system of public higher education in Ohio, for the benefit of our students, our economy and our state as a whole,” he added.

Studies indicate that about 66% of the jobs in Ohio in 2025 will require post-high school certificates or above. Currently, just 44% of working age Ohioans have these credentials.

The Forward Ohio initiative is led by the Inter-University Council of Ohio. Its website features dozens of examples of how the state’s public universities are addressing this attainment gap.

YSU, for instance, has introduced several programs aimed at keeping college affordable and helping students graduate on time, including expanded bulk rate tuition, a new guaranteed four-year tuition program and a new Jump Start program that allows incoming freshmen to take half-price summer classes.

The Forward Ohio website also provides evidence of how public universities are addressing the critical need for more skilled workers and are playing a central role in improving the state’s economy.

YSU has put into place several initiatives to help improve Ohio’s workforce, including the new Mahoning Valley Innovation and Commercialization Center under development just south of campus. In addition, through the YSU Research Foundation, the university continues to develop relationships with businesses across the region, nation and world to spur Ohio’s economy, including the recent partnership agreement with a startup 3D-printing company in Israel.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.