Representatives from the U.S. Department of Labor on Tuesday announced a $1.2 million grant to support educational programming at the Education and Training Hub at the University of Pittsburgh at Titusville.
“This grant is an investment into the future growth and development – as well as the future health – of this region,” said Dr. Catherine Koverola, president of Pitt-Titusville. “It will enable us to develop a manufacturing assistance center and a medical assistant program at the University of Pittsburgh at Titusville Education and Training Hub. We are excited to see this innovative model develop.”
The Workforce Opportunity for Rural Communities grant was developed to foster economic prosperity specifically by supporting initiatives designed to support initiatives that create gainful employment options and provide advanced training opportunities.
“The WORC Initiative encourages grantees to use innovative, regional approaches that leverage local partnerships and resources to build a strong foundation for long-term economic success in the area,” said John Pallasch, assistant secretary for the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training.
The grant funds will be used to purchase equipment for the Manufacturing Assistance Center, guided by Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, and for the medical assistant program, sponsored by Manchester Bidwell. It will also be used to recruit and pay for two employees of the MAC during the first year of operation.
“Our Education and Training Hub is a transformational project,” Koverola said, “that will reduce the effects of structural poverty in northwestern Pennsylvania by enhancing the business ecosystem. The hub will provide training, equipping the region’s residents with critical skills and enabling them to meet workforce needs.”
Kevin Jenkins, president and CEO for Manchester Bidwell shared, “Manchester Bidwell Corporation is honored to partner with the University of Pittsburgh at Titusville to develop innovative programming that will be transformative for so many people in the Northwest region of Pennsylvania.”
Also on Tuesday, representatives from Pitt-Titusville, Manchester Bidwell, the MAC and some of the region’s most influential production and manufacturing industries met with representatives from the U.S. Department of Labor, the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Delta Regional Authority to discuss the importance of supporting economic development in the region.
Joining that discussion was U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia, who discussed the increasing importance of providing training for advanced manufacturing as well as other growth industries that will help to put regions like northwestern Pennsylvania back on the path toward economic growth.
The group met at Erie High School, which Scalia noted values the skills needed in the regional job market that often are no longer prioritized at many high schools in the nation.
Manufacturing is the second largest industry within the region of northwestern PA and accounts for 16% of the area’s workforce. Given the disproportionate number of jobs available to that of adequate training centers, job seekers stand to gain considerably from the Pitt-Titusville Education and Training Hub’s certification courses, which are geared toward delivering in-depth training courses that focus on everything from basic machining to computer numerical control programming and operations.
The Hub officially launched in August and currently offers an associate degree in nursing program. The program has maintained a 100% hiring rate for recent grads and was ranked 7th in the state by the website RN Careers.
Additional programs and certifications, designed to serve the needs of the region, will be made available within the coming year.