The Center on Education and Training for Employment is Transforming the Workforce of the Future

Written by Marcie Kamb, May 4, 2022

The Center on Education and Training for Employment (CETE) serves as a translational research center within The Ohio State University’s College of Education and Human Ecology, solving societal problems with evidence-based interventions to policy development that results in the widespread use of proven practices. With 55+ years in workforce development, the center innovates to meet the needs of an evolving society through work in assessment; equity, engagement, and evaluation; curriculum and training; corrections career technical education, DACUM (an acronym for Developing a Curriculum); family engagement; professional learning for educators; and online learning.

From July, 2021 to April, 2022, CETE has $15 million across 52 grants and contracts and works with three faculty associates and six faculty affiliates from 4 departments across Ohio State. CETE is also home to 44 associates, 10 graduate students, and one post-doctoral scholar who passionately contribute to the center’s mission and vision.

As a translational research center, CETE’s approach leverages evidenced-based training practices that will guide program development activities for attracting and developing qualified educators and instructors.

CETE research cycle graph
The Center on Education and Training for Employment’s Translational Research approach as described in Common Models and Sub-Processes Inherent to Translational Research: Public Health Examples of Science for the Public Good. Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship, 13(2).

A growing priority is to build capacity for adult learners’ socioeconomic mobility, especially during a pandemic. An illuminating statistic presented by the IBM Institute for Business Value is that five years is the half-life of a learned skill, meaning five years from now, the current skill set of the workforce will be worth about half as much as it is today. At CETE, we customize programs designed to upskill adult learners to close the skills gap, offering face-to-face and virtual education to support adult learners in reaching their potential for socioeconomic mobility.

Contributing Collective Power to the Broadband and 5G Sector Partnership

A new initiative central to CETE’s commitment to transforming the modern workforce is Ohio’s Broadband and 5G Sector Partnership, launched by Ohio Lt. Governor Jon Husted. This initiative includes designing and implementing a curriculum for Ohio’s broadband and 5G workforce strategy in support of developing a skilled broadband workforce. The Ohio State University was chosen by the State to house its Broadband & 5G Connectivity Center.

The U.S. wireless industry is making significant investments in building 5G networks. According to 2021 research conducted by the Boston Consulting Group, “5G deployment will contribute $1.4 trillion to $1.7 trillion to U.S. GDP, and create 3.8 million to 4.6 million jobs, including 107,000 in Ohio.

Two men in hard hats working on an electrical circuit
Ohio’s broadband and 5G workforce strategy are to develop a skilled broadband workforce.

CETE serves in a leadership role across the spectrum of the Broadband and 5G Sector Partnership with The Ohio State University’s College of Engineering and Ohio Education Research Center. Traci Lepicki, Associate Director of Operations and Strategic Initiatives is CETE’s Principal Investigator along with Co-Investigator Dr. Ana-Paula Correia, Director of CETE and Professor of Learning Technologies at The Ohio State University.

“Having CETE at the forefront of Broadband and 5G Sector Partnership in Ohio, poises the Center to make significant contributions to the workforce of the future. The Covid-19 pandemic has irreversibly changed the workforce. Subsequently, workforce development is taking different modalities with changing roles and demands. The workforce of the future is synchronized with technology. More than ever, the telecommunications industry needs highly skilled workers.” explained Correia.

Dr. Belinda Gimbert, Faculty Affiliate at CETE and Associate Professor in Educational Administration at The Ohio State University, serves as a member of the 5G Sector Partnership working group that convenes representatives across the continuum of K-12 and postsecondary education. This group will identify broadband occupations to bring awareness to the students in the early part of the education system.

“Introducing 5G and broadband concepts and possibilities to the next generation of the workforce, primarily through collaborations with middle and high schools. At the middle school level, it would include introductory experiences such as informational videos, site visits, or summer camps for more hands-on experiences with activities related to 5G and even future generation Wireless Systems; at the high school level, it would include Advanced Placement courses, internships, and teacher training programs.” Gimbert stated.

The work connects all the project partners, creates a needs assessment that determines the types of jobs needed within the telecommunication industry, and examines all the potential educational and career pathways and pipelines. The results of the needs assessment will determine where the project needs to bolster something, where something needs to be created, or where something may already exist that just needs to be promoted.

“It’s exciting to have this level of involvement in all aspects of the partnership. We can look at the middle school years and how that relates to building career awareness and exploration, into the high school years, where the focus might be on supporting the students in taking coursework that would set them up for certain kinds of occupations leading to the job market upon graduation. There are opportunities at all of these levels, including if they decide to pursue education at a career center, community college, or a four-year institution, or if they’re going directly into the workforce. On the adult education side, you have career technical centers that provide adult education and career technical education.” Lepicki stated.

Determining the industry’s workforce demands and ensuring that the programs and framework address the current and future (5G and beyond) needs of a skilled educator workforce are key.

“CETE will help identify the top occupations in this industry and then conduct a job analysis on the subset selected to identify the body of knowledge for that specific part of the work. We use DACUM, (an acronym for Developing a Curriculum), which is a method of analyzing jobs and occupations used worldwide for more than 40 years and in over 58 countries. The results then become the inputs for the next steps in developing the curriculum that will be used to train people for those jobs.” Lepicki said.

CETE’s expertise in technical education, workforce development, career awareness, adult education, and education systems, and the general partnership positions the center to continue to transform workforces and stand-up infrastructures. In addition to the Broadband and 5G Sector Partnership, CETE is committed to numerous workforce development efforts, including supporting the university’s workforce.  

The Ohio State University’s Skilled Trades Professional Development Program focuses on modernizing job classifications and career progressions for current and future facilities personnel at Ohio State.

This project requires CETE to think about what would work best from an OSU employer perspective. We asked what work needs to be performed and how we can attract and retain workers for those roles? From a development perspective, we considered what kind of learning opportunities and experiences on the job floor would someone need to know in the work environment? How would you know that that person is capable of doing that work? How will you assess it? What kind of on-the-job training and assessment experiences are relevant to assess those skills and knowledge?” Lepicki said.

Woman at wriitng on classroom whiteboard
The Center uses the DACUM approach to analyze jobs and occupations worldwide.

Global and Local Engagement

To extend the College of Education and Human Ecology’s internationalization and justice core values, CETE is currently working with the Republic of Liberia, situated on Africa’s Atlantic coast, a nation determined to rebuild after nearly two decades of brutal civil war, which crushed its economy and infrastructure, resulting in high unemployment and widespread poverty among its citizens. Identifying employment opportunities with local industry—particularly among its youth—and providing them job skills through competency-based training is essential to transforming the Liberian workforce and strengthening its economy. Sponsored by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, the DACUM offered Instructor-Led Virtual training to professionals from Liberia’s Ministries of Education and Youth & Sports. The goal is to develop skills and linkages with local industry and analyze jobs to identify the competencies required of successful employees. Once identified and verified, the employees of those ministries will be able to develop competency-based training programs that will prepare Liberian youth and adults for in-demand jobs, allowing them to obtain gainful employment, transforming their own lives while benefitting their communities and bolstering the Liberian economy.

classroom of students sitting on floor raising their hands
Serving English learners and their families (Eakin Elementary students, Columbus, Ohio)

A new project that will utilize CETE’s experience in making an impact in local communities is the Advancing Ohio’s English Learners (AOEL) project. This partnership between the Ohio Department of Education and CETE will create a comprehensive system of supports for English learners and their families whose school learning and engagement have been negatively impacted during the coronavirus pandemic.  

Dr. Melissa Ross, Associate Director of Research Partnerships & Impacts, who is leading the AOEL project, explained, “We are excited about this project as an opportunity to amplify the voices and experiences of Ohio’s English Learners and their families. We will leverage our translational research expertise to ensure that they have a meaningful influence on the products and processes that will result from this project.”

This project was designed to address the learning loss that resulted from the pandemic. Although it is clear that the need for this support existed before the pandemic, the pandemic exacerbated the existing need and increased the gap in academic achievement between English learners and non-English learners.  In addition, this project offers the opportunity to support school personnel in their efforts to continue to improve their capacity to effectively address the unique needs of English learners.