Ohio opening skills centers online

SkillsMax info

Ohio's expected launch of its pilot SkillsMax centers in May will mark the beginning of one of the most extensive uses of the Web to offer workers and college students a way to make sure their skills meet employers' demands.

The SkillsMax centers are the latest addition to the EnterpriseOhio Network (www.enterpriseohio.org), a 16-year-old network of public two-year colleges.

Individuals will use the centers to help them with career decisions, perform job searches and find appropriate education, while employers can use them to help with recruiting, hiring, training and promotion.

This kind of skills training and development has been used by larger companies for some time, said Matt Stencil, director of the network's SkillsMax Resource Centers, but has typically been out of the reach of the small and medium-size companies that make up the vast majority of Ohio's businesses.

"So, to help their workforce development, we decided to bring this in at a [state] programmatic level," he said. "It's the use of the Web that makes the delivery of these services to these small and medium-size companies much more effective."

For example, he said, a company's human resources staff will be able to go to a SkillsMax site to monitor how their employees are doing in their training, and employees will be able to use the Web to manage their own skill competencies, to better target the kind of education and training they need, and to update and write resumes.

Ohio is one of only a few states that have considered this kind of Web-based service, said Kim Woodward, vice president of strategic marketing for Saba Software Inc., which provided the integrated Internet-based learning platform for the SkillsMax centers. It's the company's first statewide implementation, although it has provided similar solutions for federal agencies and for foreign governments in Norway, Scotland and the Netherlands.

In the United States, "there's not really been a focus yet on this kind of application, though there's a basic understanding of their need," she said.

The first 10 SkillsMax centers will open in May and June, and then EnterpriseOhio Network officials will see what is needed to expand centers to the rest of the network's 55 college campuses, Stencil said.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.


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