(North Canton, OH – May 4, 2020) – Stark State College has received permission from the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) to expand the use of three ODHE short-term training awards to offer remote programs that align with immediate workforce needs.
The program’s nearly $250,000 award to Stark State originally was earmarked primarily for financially qualifying individuals in state tested nursing assistant and commercial driver’s license training. Those programs, however, have been temporarily suspended by their accrediting bodies due to the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing requirements.
The ODHE has allowed Stark State to redirect funding to upskill unemployed Ohioans, including those impacted by COVID-19, up to $1,500 per student.
“Due to the pandemic, unemployment has increased dramatically and the need for the most affordable education and training has become dire,” said Para M. Jones, PhD, president of Stark State College. “Our goal is to couple the funds with Pell grants to offer in-demand certificates and associate degrees at low- to no-cost for individuals of all ages in our community.
“We thank the Ohio Department of Higher Education and Chancellor Randy Gardner for giving us this flexibility, so we can provide the most help to the most people in our community during this emergency,” Jones said. “We want our citizens to have the education and training they need for good, stable employment now and as we emerge from COVID-19.”
For a list of Stark State programs being offered remotely as part of the new state funding agreement, see www.starkstate.edu/upskill.
The slate of online programs that the funding can be used towards is based on in-demand jobs with immediate needs as identified by ConxusNEO and OhioMeansJobs in Stark, Tuscarawas, Summit, Medina and Portage counties.
Once the stay-at-home order is lifted and face-to-face classes can resume, the funding will expand to include healthcare programs and other programs that require classroom or field experiences.
Gardner immediately approved Stark State’s request to expand the use of the funds, praised the College’s innovation and made plans to reach out to other community colleges receiving similar state funds to see if they also need to widen their use during the pandemic.