Recent News

May 27, 2016

Forging a Better Career Path

There are 25,000 jobs open today in the Greater Cincinnati region, despite the fact that more than 85,000 people are looking for work. Why? Because businesses struggle to find workers qualified for in-demand jobs, a challenge for our region’s long-term success. Something had to change.

And it did, with the 2008 creation of Partners for a Competitive Workforce (PCW) by local employers, workforce development boards, Chambers of Commerce, educational institutions, labor, service providers, and philanthropic funders.

Managed by United Way, PCW is focused on growing the skills of the region’s current and future workforce through three key initiatives: 

  • Connecting businesses with qualified workers
  • Developing sector-based career pathways to prepare individuals for in-demand careers
  • Improving work readiness


In late 2015, the partners of PCW hit a milestone, as the number of individuals served surpassed 10,000. While it's an incredible achievement, the partnership isn't taking their eyes off the work still to be done to help local employment seekers.

“Through the work of our partners and support of our funders, we have been able serve more than 10,000 people in our region, providing career assessments, career training or job placement assistance,” said Janice Urbanik, executive director, Partners for a Competitive Workforce. “Those are great results and we’re very pleased by that, but there are many more jobs that need to be filled and many more people with families who need to build a better career path."

In addition to preparing 10,000+ people for in demand jobs since 2008, 78% of those trained got a job,  67% retained their job for at least one year and their annual earnings increased by up to $7,500.

The career pathways for in-demand jobs available through PCW  include skills training in health care, manufacturing, construction, IT, and supply chain management.


Chelsee Reese had bounced from job to job before hearing about a manufacturing apprenticeship program developed by PCW and eight local manufacturing employers. The goal of the program was to produce highly skilled welders and machine operators on a fast track. Chelsee’s career options were limited and she had virtually no knowledge of manufacturing when she applied for the program and secured a sponsored apprenticeship with American Fan.


Chelsee began  her apprenticeship at American Fan as a welder in September, 2014 working full-time while simultaneously attending Butler Technical and Career Development School at night. She has since completed 240 hours of welding coursework with a 3.7 grade point average and earned an American Welding Society Nationally Recognized Credential. She receives employer sponsored benefits and was recently received a pay raise for her outstanding performance.

“I was given a raise after just six months which was higher than all of my increases combined over the last five years,” said Reese. “This program has literally changed my life because I now have marketable skills and a career.”

Supply Chain Management

Unsure where to turn for his career, Malcolm Mitchem decided to focus on obtaining his Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). With assistance from a grant through Ohio Means Jobs Hamilton County, Malcolm completed his CDL at Napier Truck Driving in Hamilton.

After completing the program at Napier, Malcolm entered the rigorous tanker training program at Schneider Trucking in Pittsburgh, PA. He's now driving on his own after successfully passing the final phase of training and loves his job. Schneider offers excellent pay, benefits and newer equipment as one of the largest carriers in the nation.


While PCW’s methods have been proven to be effective for job seekers and provide measurable business value for employers, there are still far too many open jobs and people locally unable to provide for their families.

“Our work moving forward is going to be focused on working with employers in our targeted sectors to help them make their jobs as attractive as possible so they can attract and retain the families and individuals who need to find a better job or new career path," said Urbanik.