By Andrea Cordle
In today’s education system, college is the focus. Teachers prepare students for some form of higher education. With the focus on college, one area has taken a back seat – skilled trades, which includes positions like plumber, electrician and auto mechanic.
“There is a demand for skilled trades and there is a deficit in skilled trades,” said Grove City councilman Ted Berry.
To help resolve the deficit and expand knowledge in skilled trades, Berry introduced legislation in Grove City to incorporate a skilled labor award into the city’s Higher Education Investment Program.
The measure was approved by city council in early October and it is the first municipally-funded skilled labor award in the nation.
“This is a true bootstrap program,” said Berry. “We are creating opportunity and lifting our middle class and those not wanting a four-year degree into specializations that will earn them a strong livable wage resulting in an expanded middle class.”
According to the legislation, the purpose of the program is to support residents who wish to become licensed or certified in a skilled trade by assisting them with the resources to obtain their education. Any Grove City resident seeking a skilled trade education and who is enrolled in a registered apprenticeship program through the state of Ohio can apply for the grant award. The Grove City Higher Education Investment Committee will decide who receives the award.
The legislation says a student could receive $700 a year, with a maximum award amount of $2,100 per student. The funds could be used toward union license membership fees during apprenticeship, coursework books, tuition, trade specific equipment, and public transportation to and from school.
“Grove City is committed to attracting jobs and assisting our residents to provide for their families,” said Berry. “We can do this through a skilled labor force.”
Grove City Mayor Richard “Ike” Stage said the city is leading the way and doing the right thing.
“We are a city of innovation and we are committed to growing our skilled trade force,” said Stage. “This program promotes the work ethic that is at the heart of our city.”
Even council members who did not agree with the city using tax dollars to pay for scholarships, backed this program.
“I was skeptical to use public dollars for this as I was with the scholarship program,” said councilman Jeff Davis. “However, if it helps invigorate a passion in trades, I’m all in.”
Davis was referring to the Higher Education Investment Program, where the city awards scholarships to residents to help pay for education to an accredited college that has a presence in Grove City. As with the scholarship program, applicants of the skilled labor award must complete 10 volunteer service hours for each term or semester. According to the legislation, the requirement of volunteer time enables the award recipient to give back to the community and become more community minded.
For additional information on the skilled labor award or to apply, contact Tami Kelly, clerk of council at 614-277-3065 or firstname.lastname@example.org.