February 23, 2018
Commission Update

Sharing how PA's community colleges are responsive to the needs of the local communities they serve.

News from Pennsylvania's community colleges

A great example of how business partnerships with Pennsylvania community colleges are making a positive impact on local economies came to life this week as Shell Chemicals announced a $1 million donation to the  Community College of Beaver County's process technology program. State Rep. Jim Marshall, Chair of the bi-partisan Community College Caucus was among more than 200 people in attendance in the CCBC Dome for the celebration.  Shell's gift will be used to create a building called the Shell Center for Process Technology Education. "The $1 million gift is a reflection of CCBC's focus on meeting employer needs in the region and expanding opportunities for students," Marshall said.

The Process Technology Program satisfies an unmet need in the region, leading to high-demand, high-paying careers for graduates in many industries including chemical, petrochemical, pulp and paper, water and wastewater, nuclear power, composite manufacturing, steel manufacturing, and food and beverage. "This extraordinary investment from Shell is a result of a true partnership forged over the course of more than four years," said CCBC President Dr. Chris Reber. "Shell's support for our Process Technology program builds upon a recent $1 million investment from The Allegheny Foundation and further enables our College to provide tristate leadership for regional workforce development in the emerging petrochemicals industry and other advanced manufacturing industries."

Pennsylvania Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati was among those who gathered at  Butler County Community College's Brockway campus last week to announce the expansion of the school's registered nursing program. 

The state Board of Nursing gave the initiative a green light, endorsing a program that had a 96 percent success rate among its graduates taking post-commencement licensure exams. The expansion will go a long way in satisfying what the six-county North Central Workforce Development area identifies as its highest priority occupational need.  

The Bellwether Futures Assembly presents awards annually for innovative programs in Workforce Development, Instructional Programs and Services, and Planning, Governance, and Finance. 

Lehigh Carbon Community College's Mobile Manufacturing Lab was recently chosen as a top 10 finalist in the Workforce Development category. Thomas Bux, director of Workforce Development, and Donald Worman, manufacturing instructor, presented at the assembly in January on the lab, which helps to develop pipelines in the manufacturing sector in the Lehigh Valley.  
Community college partnerships with business and industry are not going unnoticed as reported in a recent (Pittsburgh) Tribune-Review article featuring  Westmoreland County Community College . The article highlights how WCCC ShaleNET, a training program underwritten by the federal government and grants from Chevron, has helped meet shale industry demands in the tri-state area from roustabouts to skilled technicians.

Researchers at the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce recently concluded colleges and universities must prioritize business and industry partnerships to meet a widening skills gap across the United States.Chevron noted the investment at WCCC comes as the energy industry matures and ShaleNet's curriculum adapts to reflect the region's need for a highly skilled workforce. The program was structured to focus on transferable skills across the area's burgeoning energy and advanced manufacturing industries. 

PA community college success by the numbers

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