Kasich wants to expand vocational education

FILE: Ohio Governor John Kasich is seen at the Atlantic hosted "Building the Future:Manufacturing's Software Revolution"event on Wednesday, in Norwood, OH. The governor addresss the audience in the Siemen's motors manufacturing facility. (Chris Cone/AP Images for Siemens)
FILE: Ohio Governor John Kasich is seen at the Atlantic hosted "Building the Future:Manufacturing's Software Revolution"event on Wednesday, in Norwood, OH. The governor addresss the audience in the Siemen's motors manufacturing facility. (Chris Cone/AP Images for Siemens)

NORWOOD, Ohio (AP) – Ohio’s governor said Wednesday he wants schoolchildren to start thinking as early as first grade about what they want to be when they grow up, and he will urge expansion of vocational education before high school.

Gov. John Kasich said he’ll go into more detail in his State of the State address next week, but he wants more availability of vocational education, starting in seventh grade. And he said students will increasingly be able to use online resources starting in first grade to learn about being farmers, nurses, teachers, police officers and other careers, with videos and other information to “capture their imagination.”

The Republican governor, whose re-election chances this year will be affected by perceptions of how Ohio’s economy is doing, said the state “is ahead of the curve” in preparing for workforce needs.

He spoke at a manufacturing jobs forum organized by The Atlantic magazine, at Siemens’ manufacturing facility in the Cincinnati suburb of Norwood. Kasich said earlier vocational and technical education doesn’t stop children from going on to college, and he said knowing what jobs they want and how to get into those careers can reduce dropouts.

“What we’re doing in those schools is we are matching kids’ excitement with the reality of the workplace,” Kasich said. “They’re beginning to get information that’s stokin’ ‘em up, and giving them the ability to see their future; it’s really awesome.”

Ohio Education Department spokesman John Charlton said some schools have already begun in the current school year offering vocational education starting in seventh grade.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, a Youngstown area Democrat, was among other political, business and education leaders taking part. He said there has been a resurgence in jobs in such industries as steel and auto, but earlier downturns in old-style factories have left “a cultural barrier” with parents resistant to pointing their children toward modern manufacturing. He said starting with Legos in childhood, and robotics competitions in high school, can “get kids excited about building things.”

Host Siemens announced a $66.8 million software grant to Cincinnati State Technical and Community College for workforce education and training.

Last May, Siemens announced a $440 million investment in Youngstown State University to bring state-of-the-art software and training to the school’s STEM College.

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