Leveraging Grants to Innovate and Impact Change in Ohio

By Alexandra Shinert, SkillsCommons StoryTelling Ambassador and Sarah Stubblefield, Northwest State Community College

Without a pipeline of qualified workers, employers in Northwest Ohio have been facing tough workforce challenges. As employers struggle to fill jobs and retrain workers who are lacking the necessary skills needed to perform roles, many are left to look to outsourcing to bring in the quantity of quality workers needed. Employers told local stakeholders that they were having to turn down orders, justify missed production goals, and outsource production. Unless changes were made, and quickly, the employers were going to have to move productions elsewhere. In response to this need, Northwest State Community College (NSCC) launched an intensive hybrid competency model to accelerate learning and provide more qualified workers in the skills trades area. In its first year, it cut class schedules in half and increased graduation rates by 58%.

Seeing this high demand in labor changes NSSC utilized various grants to convert 14 technical courses to an intensive hybrid competency-based model and implement acceleration strategies. By leveraging the grants, NSCC piloted changes, implemented successful strategies, and created an infrastructure for continued use by the college and greater community.

Over the past year, NSCC has been working with California State University SkillsCommons’ StoryTelling Network to highlight the acceleration strategies NSCC developed as part grants. Storytelling is a strategy for sustaining and scaling impact. Stories can help problem solve, provide guidance, build confidence, and share the wisdom of those who have walked these steps previously. Stories can be used to help others overcome challenges and invite them to embark upon the next steps in their own journeys.

NSCC’s story focused on the success of the competency-based intensive hybrid model scaling innovations across the state. Their story shares the successes and lessons learned by working with other like-minded stakeholders to form a networked improvement community such as Ohio TechNet out of Lorain County Community College. Northwest State has been working with Ohio TechNet to share lessons learned across the state.

In order to connect with other colleges and organizations in the area and reaffirm that NSCC is working on the same outcomes, the college needed a tool to quickly provide a snapshot of the current situation and break the ice towards more meaningful conversations.



The NSCC Story highlights acceleration strategies employed as well as the partnerships developed between industry, community, and the college. “The story that NSCC tells focuses on relatable characters and shows what is at stake in their community: the need to get more students into the workforce with the necessary skills at a quicker pace,” said Alexandra Shinert, SkillsCommons Storytelling Ambassador, who worked closely with NSCC to develop and guide the story process.

Third party evaluators rated these acceleration courses as exceptional in design and delivery. However, some colleges may only be able to implement portions of the intensive hybrid competency model at their institutions. With this in mind, the curriculum is archived in a way that allows ala carte access to learning materials. All grant developed items can be found in the SkillsCommons Repository.

Northwest State also partnered with SkillsCommons to produce a webinar that outlines the intensive hybrid competency model.

The work started with the TAACCCT and NSF grants is just the beginning. Northwest State Community College continues to engage with employers and Ohio TechNet to convert courses into the intensive hybrid competency model. NSCC would love to continue to discuss and improve upon the work completed by these grants. To learn more, contact Sarah Stubblefield, Training Coordinator,  at 419-267-1512 or sestubblefield@northweststate.edu


Webinar slides