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Saturday, July 25, 2015

Major Initiative Offers Job Training, College Credits

Potter County TodaypitchfordmorleyResidents in Potter and eight other northwestern Pennsylvania counties will be able to earn two-year college degrees or receive other specialized training and education through the Rural Regional Community College. It has been more than three years in the making, according to Sen. Joseph Scarnati, who shepherded enabling legislation through the State Senate. Rep. Martin Causer was a champion of the bill in the State House of Representatives. A 15-member board of trustees is meeting regularly to direct the community college’s development and administration, in consultation with local educators, industrial leaders and business owners. Goal is to tailor curriculum to the needs of employers in the region.

 Local residents, including high school students, will also be able to earn college credits that can be transferred to a four-year university at a fraction of their on-campus cost. Representing Potter County on the board are Commissioner Doug Morley (left) and Ed Pitchford (right), chief executive officer of Charles Cole Memorial Hospital.

It’s part of a broader effort, coordinated locally by the Potter County Education Council and the Potter County Commissioners, to give local job-seekers the skills and training they need to secure local jobs. Former Oswayo Valley School Superintendent Bob Wicker has been spearheading that initiative. He has been meeting with local employers large and small to assess their needs and craft training programs that prepare local residents to fill their jobs. Contrary to popular belief, Wicker said, many Potter County employers have job openings and others would be willing to hire locally if they could find qualified applicants.

A recent economic/employment profile of Potter, Cameron and five other counties reinforced the point. Susan Snelick, executive director of the North Central Workforce Investment Board, said the study showed that employers are frustrated by the lack of qualified job applicants. Employee turnover is a chronic problem. Many lack basic educational qualifications and skills. Absenteeism, tardiness and an inability to stay drug-free are chronic problems, Snelick noted. Many of the jobless who possess skills and work ethic do not apply for work because they’re getting by on unemployment compensation benefits.

The 100-page Workforce Investment Area Five-Year Plan was compiled to better direct government resources to address the economic and social challenges. It found that manufacturing jobs have been declining and are expected to fall even more. Decreases are also expected in the information sector, company management, government, retail, agriculture and utilities. Employment opportunities will grow in the oil and gas industries, finance, administrative support, waste management, real estate, tourism, health care and social assistance. Some 8.7 percent of the region’s adults hold bachelor degrees, compared to 16.1 percent statewide. It’s estimated that 63 percent of local jobs will require at least some college education by 2018.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is a practical, long-term and professional way to go about creating meaningful employment and education. These things take time and so often we fall for the quick fixes that don't really solve anything. I have not seen such an innovative effort being made in Potter County for many years and I wish our leaders good luck as they tackle something this ambitious. It is especially heartening to see them partnering with LOCAL employers for skills that are needed LOCALLY, but also bringing college courses at low cost so those credits be earned locally and then the more advanced courses can be taken at campuses. If you read the comments from Ms. Snelick here, it is a polite way of saying there is an element of our population who don't have much of a work ethic or a desire to learn. We cannot keep dumping all of our resources on taking care of them. This project targets what limited resources we have to people who can grow and become productive members of society. Thank you.