Blog // Connect Ohio
Connect Ohio Unveils First Jobs Skills & Placement Center in Zanesville
On June 21st, Connect Ohio revealed its newest initiative, Digital Workssm: Connecting People & Jobs, a digital skills training program aimed at providing a link between twenty-first century workforce opportunities and community revitalization. The program provides mentoring and training to workers seeking employment and places them in quality teleworking jobs. The grand opening event for the first Digital Works center was held in Zanesville at the Muskingum County Business Incubator (MCBI), with remarks from dignitaries, program partners, the official program inauguration, and plans for rolling out the program statewide.
“Access to broadband service is critical to bridging the digital divide and is essential for the economic strength of Ohio’s rural communities,” said Senator Sherrod Brown. “I congratulate Connect Ohio as it launches this new job training program that will prepare Ohioans in Muskingum County — and throughout Ohio — for good-paying twenty-first century jobs that will allow our workers to compete in the global economy.”
The Digital Works program is an extension of Connect Ohio’s current Every Citizen Online (ECO) digital literacy training program. Using the digital learning model, the Digital Works program trains, places, and mentors high-quality business process candidates and locates co-working centers in rural America settings where job demand is high, few employers exist, and the cost of living is the lowest. At the end of training the workers are guaranteed placement in a position that matches their skills and interest.
“Digital Work’s mission is to connect people with jobs, with the preliminary group in Zanesville proving its success by finding employment for most participants just one month after starting the program,” said Stu Johnson, executive director of Connect Ohio. “The Digital Works program makes sense, bringing twenty-first century workforce opportunities to localized Ohio areas facing high unemployment. Structuring partnerships in local communities really is the backbone of this program and provides the success to get people employed.”
The program is providing an avenue for vacant centers to become job incubators and retain workers in the area. The Digital Works pilot location opened in Zanesville at the MCBI on May 13, with initial participant interest being driven from a local partnership with Muskingum County Jobs and Family Services providing 12 applicants, currently at various stages in the program. The initial training group was made up of 7 trainees, with four having already found employment and the remaining three expecting to secure employment by next week. Centers are opening in Logan and Gallipolis this summer, with additional locations to be announced.
“We need to ensure that Ohioans have the training they need to compete for jobs, because a trained workforce is an important part of attracting business to a community,” said Jason Wilson, director of the Governor’s Office of Appalachia.
The funding for the Digital Works pilot program is provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). BTOP provided original funding for the ECO program, which has successfully trained more than 40,000 Ohio adults at over 250 locations statewide on the basics of computer use and digital literacy.