Qualified and properly trained workers are a valuable commodity in today’s job marketplace. That’s even more true for much of northcentral Pennsylvania, where years of population loss have depleted the workforce as young adults have left to pursue career opportunities. One response to this disturbing trend, the regional Discover Partnership, is showing some progress, according to Amy Goode, a program director for the Community Education Council (CEC) of Cameron and Elk counties. Its goal is to connect businesses, schools and community organizations through on-the-job training, internships, apprenticeships, new degree programs and non-credit training courses. Between 2000 and 2010, Cameron County’s population fell by about 15 percent, some of it driven by a national economic recession of 2008 and early 2009. Goode said several of the industries adversely affected by that recession have now rebounded, but the workers who left haven’t returned. Good-paying jobs exist, but many local businesses can’t fil them. “We need to make our students aware that good jobs, and not just entry-level positions, are out there.” Goode said. “There’s a misconception that you need a four-year degree and that’s not true.” Discover Partnership has already made several in-roads in Cameron County, including:
• Student tours of local companies, “educator in the workplace” events to allow teachers to observe local workplace settings, and job shadowing.
• Establishment of a computer lab next to the Pa. CareerLink offices at the Emporium Forging facility. Classes and workshops are offered dealing with social media, computer operating systems and other areas of technology.
• A Career Connect program at Cameron County High School, introducing students to careers and walking them through mock interviews with local employers.
• Expanded high school curriculum options, including Junior Achievement, career fairs, vocational research, writing classes and independent living courses. Goode said CEC offers college courses through Gannon, Pitt-Bradford and Penn State DuBois, as well as certification testing, GED instruction and professional development courses.
For more information, call 814-781-3437 or visit the website, discoverpartnership.org.