Grant money to help business and education partners fill workforce needs
Kent State University was selected to receive $724,553 of state funding to support workforce development strategies and enhance student success through internship and co-op programs linked to key industries targeted for growth in Ohio. The funding will support up to 200 student interns and improve the intern tracking system to discover new opportunities and to develop a strong feedback loop between the university and area companies, contingent upon Controlling Board approval in January. The university also will create an Intern Advisory Board to help improve internship experiences.
In September, the Ohio Board of Regents announced that $11 million in state funds would be shared among colleges and universities through a competitive process that required universities, in partnership with business and industry, to submit proposals to enhance experiential learning and career opportunities for students. The grants are part of Gov. John Kasich’s workforce development strategy to align Ohio’s higher education curriculum with skills that are in demand by Ohio’s businesses.
The purpose of the grant is to not only provide opportunities for students and encourage them to stay in Ohio after graduation, but also to give Ohio businesses access to high-quality talent to help increase competitiveness while decreasing the cost of finding new talent in the communities where they do business.
“I am optimistic we can help more students complete credentials and expand the human capital talent pipeline for Ohio businesses,” said Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Jim Petro.
The colleges and universities that participate in this program must provide matching dollars from private sources. Undergraduate programs are required to match 100 percent and graduate programs are required to match 150 percent of the awarded grant. For Kent State, the matching target industries will include advanced manufacturing, aerospace and aviation, biohealth, energy, financial services, information technology and polymers.
Letters of commitment from 17 companies supported Kent State’s proposal, along with support from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education (NOCHE).
Participating companies include: Akron Polymer Systems, AlphaMicron, Assurance Investment Management, AtNetPlus, Crystal Diagnostics, Echogen Power Systems, Explorys, First Energy Corp., GraphSQL, Kent Displays, Melin Tool Company, Price Builders & Developers, Summa Health System, Telerik, Inc., The Timken Company, Tribute, Inc. and True Wealth Advisors.
The total budget for this program, called Integrating Kent State University Learning Experiences and Business Work Experiences, is nearly $1.5 million,which includes the state funding.
“In conjunction with increasing the number of Kent State students in internship positions, we also hope to improve our methods for helping students prepare for, find and make the most of internships,” said Austin Melton, Ph.D., professor of computer science and mathematics, who will coordinate the internship program at Kent State University.
To help students have better and more effective internships, the university will work with NOCHE to develop materials and programs to assist companies in beginning and improving internship opportunities and to assist students in preparing for internships.
“We are forming much closer relationships with industry that help inform our research and educational programs to the extent that we can provide an educated, trained workforce for companies in the region,” said Grant McGimpsey, Ph.D., vice president for research at Kent State University. “In that way, we’ll drive economic development in the region. One way for us to be more responsive to industrial needs - particularly on the workforce training side - is through an active and aggressive internship program.”
The program is a cost-effective, economic development tool for the state, according to McGimpsey.
“They’ve taken a relatively small amount of money and leveraged it very effectively," he said. “It will have a great impact.”
For more information about internships at Kent State, visit www.kent.edu/career/jobs.
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