The Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) and the Department of Education hope new education and job training opportunities will encourage Pennsylvanians to return to work.
On Tuesday, Sheila Ireland, L&I Deputy Secretary for Workforce Development, and Dr. Tanya Garcia, Department of Education Acting Deputy Secretary, toured the new Erie County Community College Regional Science Consortium to discuss offering better jobs through education.
“Erie County Community College is bringing a new affordable option for Pennsylvanians in the northwest corner of our commonwealth to reskill,” said Deputy Secretary Ireland. “Gov. Tom Wolf’s Keystone Economic Development and Workforce Command Center identified job training as a key hurdle preventing Pennsylvanians from obtaining good jobs and keeping employers from finding the workers they need. The teaching and learning that will soon take place inside the Tom Ridge Environmental Center will help reduce this hurdle, allowing more Pennsylvanians to get the training they need to succeed in today’s economy.”
The governor’s Keystone Economic Development and Workforce Command Center identified five barriers preventing employers from hiring qualified candidates and discouraging potential employees: access to affordable childcare, job training, transportation to a workplace, burdensome occupational licensing requirements, and challenges for people re-entering the workforce from the criminal justice system.
Since Governor Tom Wolf took office, recurring funding for community colleges has increased by $33 million. Wolf’s PAsmart initiative has also invested an additional $100 million to expand job training through registered apprenticeships and industry partnerships while also supporting STEM and computer science education in hundreds of schools across Pennsylvania.
“The Pennsylvania Department of Education is delighted to welcome Erie County Community College as the commonwealth’s fifteenth community college,” said Deputy Secretary Garcia. “Community colleges serve critical roles in talent development, and we are excited to expand both educational and economic opportunities in the northwestern part of the state.”
The tour featured laboratories that are part of four instructional sites for the Regional Science Center at Erie County Community College, which became certified as Pennsylvania’s 15th community college last year. The college will begin offering classes on Sept. 1.
“I welcome our esteemed guests from the Departments of Education and Labor & Industry to Erie, Pennsylvania,” said Dr. Chris Gray, Founding President of Erie County Community College. “Our community college opens new opportunities for education and workforce development in Erie County. We look forward to a productive discussion on these issues with our Commonwealth colleagues and our collaborations will lead to a brighter future for all.”
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