Now there’s a hub for workforce training in Lorain County that wraps the region’s educational resources into an accessible bundle. There is one point of contact for employers seeking training and employee development, and for workers who want to upgrade their skills. Agencies can refer clients to one location to fulfill their workforce training needs. Communities can access economic-development resources with one phone call. And, students can plug in to internship opportunities and earn college credit for some of their career technical training coursework.
Local workforce training is a WIN for everyone.
The Workforce Innovation Network is a single source for education, training and employee development demands, serving employers, workers, communities and agencies. The partnership is a true collaboration and integration of services provided by Lorain County Community College and the Lorain County Joint Vocational School.
“WIN captures the ability of two highly respected educational institutions in the county to address the needs of business and industry in a unified way, and to serve the student population in a more systematic way,” says Peggy Michener, InnovatEd executive in residence and University Partnership Ridge Campus coordinator.
Before the partnership was rolled out earlier this year, employers seeking workforce training — or even looking to hire a college or career technical student — would have to call both educational entities. WIN streamlines the communication channel, and provides “clients” with a menu of services combining resources at both institutions.
“Our goal is to look at how we can coordinate our employer engagement efforts and also share information concerning their needs so we can best support companies to achieve their business goals, create jobs and help workers stay in jobs,” says Terri Burgess Sandu, executive director of workforce development at LCCC.
Lorain County has a track record of establishing positive partnerships through the Lorain County Growth Partnership. Monthly economic-development meetings gather all of the region’s entities that are working toward strengthening the region’s economy. WIN, powered by LCCC and JVS, and supported by the Lorain County Growth Partnership, is an example of executing a business expansion vision.
“One thing I notice so much in Lorain County is the long-established partnerships and advanced communication channels,” says Kit Tyler, adult education director at JVS. She joined the school staff in July 2013 from outside the county. “That dialogue is a new experience for me because you don’t see that everywhere,” she says.
Sandu adds, “We are constantly asking the question of how we might improve and how we can further innovate to really meet the needs our local companies have.”
WIN is one answer. The partnership leverages the resources of LCCC and JVS to be more responsive to the community’s needs for workforce development. Ultimately, there are “two significant strands” of how WIN will have a positive impact on Lorain County, Michener says.
First is logistics and synergy: avoiding duplication of resources and joining forces to bolster the county’s educational offering to businesses. WIN’s Employer Outreach Team fields inquiries from businesses and approaches organizations to offer LCCC/JVS workforce-training services. That prevents multiple phone calls and confusion over who does what/which institution offers what. Employers can reach out to a single source, and WIN work groups collaborate and do the behind-the-scenes legwork to pull together a package that meets clients’ needs.
“There is a unified proposal and cost structure, and we’ll use one database that LCCC and JVS share when we gather information from companies we are working with,” Michener says.
How this works out for the client: Say a company contacts WIN to learn about a welding program, which both LCCC and JVS offer. A WIN Employer Outreach representative fields that inquiry and brings the company’s information (requirements, goals, etc.) back to the WIN team, which includes LCCC and Lorain County JVS members working in concert under the WIN label. “We talk about which entity can best meet the needs, (who) has the faculty that can work the hours that the company wants, who has the credentials or certifications,” Michener explains. “Together, we work through all of the logistics of how we can best meet the company’s needs and provide them with the best training possible.”
Before WIN, there would have been separate phone calls, discussions and plans presented to the business. And, if that business only contacted one of the educational institutions, it could have missed out on a training opportunity that might have been a better fit. Now, clients (businesses, workers, agencies) can rest assured that they are accessing the best workforce-development package to suit their needs because one call unlocks resources from both educational institutions.
“We are excited that we can provide training solutions for companies in a unified way because they can get the best, relevant education and training available at a good price, and they know it’s high value,” Michener says.
The second “strand” of WIN is the value it brings to students who are pursuing career-technical degrees at JVS. “We are working to offer more students at the JVS college credit where the coursework is equivalent,” Michener says of “mapping the curriculum” offered by LCCC and JVS.
“Our goal is for JVS students to graduate from their career-technical programs with credentials that are recognized by employers,” Michener says. “That will make the students more marketable, and give them some college credit that will encourage them to continue on a path toward an associates degree.”
LCCC will offer more courses on the JVS campus, giving students enrolled under the WIN banner the ability to work toward a college degree on a campus where they already feel comfortable, Tyler adds. “For students, the partnership really gives them two different venues to get that associate degree, depending on what type of experience they are looking for,” she says. “If they want something in their own back yard, with smaller classes, they have that opportunity here [at the JVS].”
Meanwhile, employers who are hiring or seeking interns educated at the JVS can seamlessly access a pool of qualified candidates by contacting WIN.
WINning at Work
The WIN partnership is gaining traction among employers in its initial rollout stage. As of April, the Employer Outreach Team had held 22 in-person meetings with employers and submitted a dozen workforce innovation proposals. Four businesses have begun implementing training programs through WIN.
“WIN is another tool in my toolbox,” says Sam Wasylyshyn, who focuses on business retention and expansion outreach for Team Lorain County. “It reduces duplication between LCCC and JVS, and it leverages the assets that both of these organizations offer.”
When Wasylyshyn talks to businesses about training resources through WIN, the conversation is simple. There’s one system, one point of connection for clients. “I tell them WIN is a way to take advantage of the resources at LCCC and JVS, and that there are programs in place at both organizations they might not be aware of,” he relates. “Combining those entities into one and getting companies tapped in is part of that conversation.”
For organizations seeking workforce training, WIN makes the entire process turnkey.
Murray Ridge Center holds its annual in-service day for agency staff at LCCC, using the Spitzer Conference Center and other campus training locations for its meetings. “They took care of all the details for us, ranging form working with us on course content to identifying lab space and trainers,” HR coordinator Laura Gleason says. LCCC staff met the Murray Ridge team upon arrival on campus and escorted the group to training locations. “We ended up getting training for 80 employees that day,” Gleason says.
Beyond the in-service training, Murray Ridge has tapped into LCCC’s workforce-development offerings for professional development and management-level training. “We are so fortunate to have this resource right in our backyard, and they are really great at customizing programs to meet the needs of our agency,” Gleason says.
The range of services provided through the WIN partnership gives a selection of relevant training opportunities for local employees of PolyOne, a multinational corporation with the Avon Lake Innovation Center and Sales Office, located in Avon Lake. The company taps into WIN for adult education, from interpersonal and interviewing skills training to teambuilding. PolyOne has been working with LCCC on training initiatives since 2006. “So, when they transitioned into WIN and had more of a breadth of programming, it was perfect because we already had a partnership,” says Kristen Gajewski, manager of training and organizational development.
Now, PolyOne is working with WIN to learn which programs align with their business and tie into their core competencies. “They have been fantastic partners to work with, whether we’re utilizing a class they already offer or working with them to tailor something specific to our organization,” Gajewski says.
WIN representatives have visited PolyOne to learn more about the company’s demands and communicate expanded opportunities through WIN. “We have had conversations to talk about our training needs, and this is when I found out about a maintenance training program,” Gajewski says, relating that PolyOne will likely take advantage of this offering for its local plants.
So far, 81 PolyOne employees have been learners in WIN programs, Gajewski says. “WIN definitely gives us more access to programs,” she says, noting that while the company has other university training partners, it engages in more diverse programming through LCCC. “LCCC has been one of our strongest partners,” she says.
The services WIN provides extend beyond training and include talent management and recruiting, Sandu emphasizes.
“Maybe a business needs to upgrade a job description and do some job profiling—we can help with that,” she says. “We can help companies look at their hiring processes and screening tools, and update the assessments that they integrate into their hiring and advancement plans. We want employers to know (that) if they have a need related to talent and training, they can come to us. If we can help, we’ll offer the best-possible solution for the best-possible price. And if we can’t help, we’ll refer them to other places.”
The WIN Menu
WIN offers a full range of customized/contract training courses, including:
Assessment & Selection Services:
• Job profiling: ACT & CEB
• Pre-hire selection assessments: knowledge, skills, ability and work-style assessments
• Candidate/employee background checks and drug testing
• WorkKeys testing
• KeyTrain remediation
• Instructional support
• Career/vocational assessments
• Interviewing training/interview guide development
• Certification testing
• 360-degree assessments
• Performance management consulting
• Everything DiSC Workplace Profiles
• Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality inventory
• Customer service
• Project management
• Everything DsSC Workplace Profiles
• Training others
• QuickBooks Pro
• Mac OS
• Web design
• A+, Network+ and Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist certification
• IT Other
• Cisco, Certified Entry Networking Technician certification
• Six Sigma
• CNC-National Institute for Metalworking Skills certification
• Electricity – National Electric Code
• HVAC State of Ohio certification
• Hydraulics and Pneumatics Manufacturing Skills Standards Council certification
• Lift truck operation
• Programmable logic controls
• Rigging – MSSC certification
• Welding – American Welding Society and other certifications available
• Blueprint reading
• Geometric dimensioning and tolerancing (GD&T)
• Industrial math
• Brown and Sharpe
• Automotive plant apprenticeship – Automotive Service Excellence
• Various ASE certifications available
Bio Health & Food Service:
• Electronic Health Records – NHA certification
• Medical coding – NHA certification
• ServSafe certification