BY HOWARD WILKINSON
The Cincinnati Enquirer
SHARONVILLE -- Ohio Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lee Fisher took his campaign to the Great Oaks Institute of Technology and Career Development on Tuesday, saying he wants to use it as a model for "work-force development."
"What we want to do is make sure every child is equipped for the jobs of the 21st century, and this is just the kind of place we want to use as a model," said Mr. Fisher, who toured the campus with his running mate, Columbus City Council President Michael Coleman. After being briefed on the vocational school's program by Great Oaks President Harold Carr and other administrators, Mr. Fisher and Mr. Coleman took a walking tour of the facility's Scarlet Oaks Career Development Campus, talking with students and listening to instructors.
In a room in Scarlet Oaks' culinary arts department, the candidates munched on pastries baked by students and talked with teen-agers who are receiving training in child care, electronics, and the tourism and travel industry.
"Where would you like to be in five years?" Mr. Fisher asked 17-year-old culinary arts junior Michelle Posega.
"I'd like to own a restaurant," she said.
The Great Oaks campus draws students from 36 Southwestern Ohio school districts for vocational training.
"This is working because the school administration has built partnerships with businesses and labor unions in the community who have a direct stake in training workers, in preparing young people for the good jobs that are out there," Mr. Coleman said. "These businesses and unions understand that they have to become partners with institutions like Great Oaks, because if they invest in these schools, they invest in their own future," Mr. Coleman said.
Mr. Coleman said he recently had discussions with executives of six high-tech companies in central Ohio who had created 1,500 new jobs, but had to recruit outside the state to find people to fill them.
After the visit to Great Oaks, Mr. Fisher and Mr. Coleman spoke at a luncheon meeting of the Baptist Ministers Conference in Avondale and attended a campaign reception in Roselawn.
Mr. Fisher, former Ohio attorney general, will face Secretary of State Bob Taft in the November election.