Jobs Are Available But People with Necessary Training and
Skills are Not
November 1, 2013- Howard Ondick
PITTSBURGH- An Allegheny County lawmaker says it’s clear: the
state has to do a better job of streamlining its workforce development programs
to help both businesses who have job openings and people who are looking for
work or a new career.
Our speaker is Senator Wayne Fontana of Pittsburgh who led a
roundtable discussion this week in Green Tree Borough, Allegheny County, with
members of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, business people, workforce
development experts, and community college officials.
The policy committee travels statewide to gather varied
ideas about how to respond to the commonwealth’s more pressing issues. This roundtable’s goal was to gather
information on how to better deliver trained employees to Pennsylvania
industries, especially manufacturing and energy. The biggest complaint from the business
community is that although good-paying jobs are available, they are having a
difficult time finding enough skilled workers to fill key positions.
Senate Democrats say the time has come to recognize that a four-year
college education isn’t the only path to a
good job and family sustaining wage. Community colleges, technical schools, apprenticeship programs,
employer-sponsored programs and military careers have become viable choices and
should no longer be viewed as the ugly step-sister to a four-year college
Senator Fontana says the most surprising thing he learned
from the roundtable discussion is the lack of communication between the state’s workforce development programs,
which he says need to be consolidated because there are just too many of
them. Also, he says there’s a disconnect
between high schools, community colleges, the business community – especially
manufacturers, and the workforce development programs.
Senator Fontana says getting the message to students and
their parents about the job and career opportunities available in manufacturing
and other businesses and how community colleges can help them get trained for
those jobs is key to helping employers and people looking for work.
Alcoa Foundation Principal Manager Scott Hudson said 65
percent of his company’s workforce is not college educated, so it’s important
that some solution be presented to help high school graduates be better prepared. “(Our employees) are certificate, skilled
trades, operators and technicians, so we have a lot at stake, and we have a lot
to offer in terms of our leadership and experts,” Hudson said.