In the next five years, the manufacturing industry in Berks and neighboring counties will need to fill nearly 10,000 production and maintenance job openings. This week, the PA Deputy Secretary for Technology and Innovation outlined partnerships between manufacturers, industrial resource centers and higher education institutions focused on building manufacturing trade pipelines from training to wage-sustaining careers.
The Schmidt Training & Technology Center at
Reading Area Community College
is taking the lead in the region to address the skills gap. The modern facility is equipped to deliver hands-on experience for electrical, mechanical, and computerized systems support, coupled with complex manufacturing maintenance classroom curriculum. Companies look to RACC's Technology Center to improve workforce skills, thus increasing productivity while employees improve competency through non-credit and certificate programs. Due to high demand, RACC added an additional credential to address the manufacturing workforce skills gap, especially among adult learners. Mechatronics programs at
RACC, Community College of Beaver County, Westmoreland Community College, Community College of Allegheny County
, and HACC, Central Pennsylvania's Community College, among others, are all preparing students for careers in high demand occupations throughout Pennsylvania.
The Schmidt Technology Center is named for Rolf D. Schmidt, an entrepreneur and medical supply manufacturer who recognized the need to train local employees to maintain global competitiveness and keep good paying jobs from being shipped overseas. The Center is critical in shoring up regional economic and workforce development while meeting both employer and student needs.
Improving student retention and increasing student completion is the catalyst for
Northampton Community College's
adoption of the nationwide program, Guided Pathways, which prioritizes the support of students throughout their educational experience. One element of the initiative which streamlines the student's pathway is the declaration of a "meta-major," which helps students explore program areas while reducing the number of unnecessary credits. NCC developed an extensive plan to improve systems from the initial student contact to graduation by integrating institution-wide collaboration. For example, the marketing and communications departmnet worked with the technology team to build an app to help students navigate potential career paths and course schedules. Students gain support through personalized academic advising, one-on-one benchmarking check-ins, and scheduling assistance as they progress to degree attainment thus improving student success and completion rates.
The process technology, engineering and mechatronics programs at
Community College of Beaver County
are the only ones available in a 300-mile radius. Spurred by the construction of a new ethane cracker plant, with a grant from the Mellon Foundation, CCBC will expand its process technology program into a second phase. Enrollment in the program continues to grow as students learn critical skills such as instrumentation, chemistry and other fundamentals of the process technology industry. Expansion and upgrades will allow CCBC to continue to train local students and ensure the region is able to meet current and future job growth in the process technology and advanced manufacturing sector.
Current Art Institute of Philadelphia students are seeking answers after the campus announced it will close its doors. Students who do not want to put their career goals on hold can visit two PA Community Colleges on August 1, to continue their educational pursuits. The
Community College of Philadelphia
is offering an accelerated enrollment process to help displaced students enroll for the upcoming fall semester.
Delaware County Community College
faculty and administrators will also assist students in aligning previous course completions with existing art and design programs of study on their campus.
With the decrease of volunteer firefighters in the past 50 years from 300,000 to 50,000, local fire departments are looking to recruit junior firefighters.
Westmoreland County Community College
is one of the partners providing 120 hours of emergency services training to students as young as 15 years-old. The program includes instruction on hazmat awareness, interior and exterior firefighting classes and structural burn science. Community Colleges throughout Pennsylvania provide emergency services training at all levels to help ensure the continued safety of their communities.