Share This Page

Fund 21st-century job prep

| Monday, Feb. 4, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The Governor's Manufacturing Advisory Council report noted a staggering gap in available skilled workers. Nationally, 1.5 million job vacancies require more than a high school diploma but less than a bachelor's degree.

Community colleges in Allegheny, Beaver, Butler and Westmoreland counties address the skills gap through geo-targeted training programs. We have joined forces with natural gas companies under the ShaleNET initiative to conduct training for priority occupations as identified by the state's Department of Labor. Notably, 2,481 people have completed ShaleNET training and 1,653 have secured Marcellus shale industry-related jobs in Pennsylvania.

Each college has dedicated JobTrakPA training programs designed to train unemployed workers for in-demand jobs in advanced manufacturing, mechatronics and the energy fields. However, state budget constraints are restricting what community colleges are able to provide.

Nevertheless, Pennsylvania's community colleges stand poised to lead the charge to address the skills gap to get Pennsylvanians back to work, but we need the state to be our partner, maintaining access to and affordability of these institutions while ensuring that resources to train students for 21st-century jobs are not sacrificed in the 2013-14 state budget.

As the governor finalizes his proposed budget, we ask him to consider what's at stake. The future competitiveness of our state and the ability for our businesses to thrive and our students to become valuable workers hinge on equipping community colleges with the necessary resources we need to do the job. A strategic investment in Pennsylvania's community colleges is more important than ever.

Alex Johnson

The writer is president of the Community College of Allegheny County. This letter also was signed by the presidents of the community colleges in Beaver, Butler and Westmoreland counties.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.