OHIO — “You have an employee that needs a tech credential, here are 150 things you can train them on,” says Amy Sealts, Director of the Putnam County Community Improvement Corporation (PC CIC). “If they go, the state will pay you. It really is that simple.”

Mrs. Sealts is speaking of TechCred, a new program launched this month by the State of Ohio. It represents an opportunity for employers and employees alike to ensure that the skills needed for success are being acquired and put to use.

Run out of Ohio’s Development Services Agency, the TechCred Program promises to give businesses the chance to “upskill” current and future employees, and to be reimbursed for the expense.

The program will pay businesses up to $2,000 per credential once an employee has completed the necessary training and achieved the credential. Businesses will not be limited to just one employee either and can receive up to $30,000 per funding round. The state has allocated $15 million this year, and another $15 million for next year.

As Mrs. Sealts noted, there is already a large number of credentials included in the new program, and businesses can even apply for ones not yet on the list. The credential must be “industry recognized,” meaning one that is sought, accepted or required by employers in the industry or sector. It must also be technology-focused, be able to be completed in 12 months or less, and require less than 30 credit hours or 900 clock hours to complete.

“This is not sending people to college for a degree,” Mrs. Sealts emphasizes. “It is a credential. It’s a certificate that says, ‘I’m credentialed in this technology.’ It’s tech credentials, specifically…And, it’s not just for manufacturing businesses. It is open to any Ohio employer.”

“They launched Monday (Oct. 1), and you have to apply by October 31,” adds Mrs. Sealts, emphasizing what she views as the only difficulty when applying for the program. Details needed for the application include information on the business itself, the employee seeking the new credential, which tech credential they will pursue, and where the training will take place.

It can take a little time to complete the application, but, unlike other programs that provide funding for training, there is no income eligibility or similar restriction. If a company needs an employee with a specific credential, and there is an employee, or even a prospective employee, willing and able to complete the training, the state will fund it.

“I think what they’re trying to help employers think about, is not only is this program for your current workforce, but what you anticipate will be a need in your business in the future,” Mrs. Sealts continues. “What do you see coming down the pike in the next one, to three, to five years, that your employees will need training on now. They could go out next year and get trained, and your workforce can then be better-positioned to handle the new technology coming down the road.”

“It’s not first-come, first-serve,” Mrs. Sealts adds. “It is competitive. They’re looking at what you submit, what industry sector you are in, and what it is that you want to train your employees for.”

The state will evaluate each application and, depending on the number of employers who apply, may not approve everyone. “They don’t want to throw taxpayer money away,” Mrs. Sealts says. But, she does not know precisely what that evaluation entails, only that the state seems to want a focus on keeping employees competitive as new technology comes into regular use.

“Jobs Ohio is very attuned to what businesses are looking to come to Ohio,” she says, “What leads are coming to the area. And so, they’re trying to capitalize on raising the bar in regards to technology for our workforce to meet that demand in the future.”

The 2019 application, along with more details on the program, can be found on the website: techcred.ohio.gov.