Central State University will establish a Workforce Training and Business Development Center at their Dayton Campus after a multimillion-dollar investment from the federal government.
The U.S. Department of Commerce awarded the university $3.6 million in ARPA funds to “tackle workforce shortages” exacerbated by the pandemic.
The money will fund short-term workshops and undergraduate programs in advanced materials, advanced manufacturing, information technology and advanced data management. The university will acquire state-of-the-art equipment and software, and hire instructors to make its four-year courses more relevant to the current job market.
Students will also be able to get certificates and credentials to increase their skills and help them retain their current jobs, even if they are not seeking four-year degrees, Provost F. Erik Brooks said.
“Universities such as Central State must use our knowledge, our skills, our expertise to solve contemporary problems facing the communities where we are found. We must venture out of our ivory towers and go into the towns and cities where we are situated and we must provide practical solutions to improve the lives of those in our communities,” Brooks said.
Workshops can be as short as five days, or as long as three months, but students will walk away with the qualifications to gain employment in manufacturing, IT or other industries, CSU officials said.
Central State’s Dayton Campus, located at 840 Germantown Street, is located in a sector of the city of Dayton that is the most lacking in economic opportunity, said Associate Provost for Research and project director Morakinyo Kuti.
“Underrepresented individuals, particularly African Americans, have borne a disproportionate share of negative COVID-19 health, economic, and educational outcomes,” CSU President Jack Thomas said Thursday. “These disparities have further widened the socioeconomic gap that exists between African Americans and the majority population. Central State’s Workforce Training and Business Development Center will provide employment-related training and educational programs to increase the ability of underrepresented individuals to gain meaningful employment.”
Central State has contributed an additional $896,848 towards the center’s creation. A Department of Commerce statement indicates that the venture is expected to help fill 300 jobs and generate $1 million in private investment from companies looking to hire workers.
“There’s a demand from employers for people with skills for jobs that are vacant,” Kuti said.
The university is projecting a 50 percent spike in fall 2022 enrollment, going roughly from 2,000 to 3,000 students physically attending at the Wilberforce campus, and a similar jump for online classes, going from 4,000 students to 7,000.
“Ohio has a proud history of leading the country in manufacturing innovation,” said U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown. “Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, this investment at Central State will help create hundreds of jobs and prepare the workers Ohio needs to compete. Central State is one of Ohio’s premier universities and I’m glad to see its strength is being recognized.”