Job Training Program Could be Model for Centers Statewide

May 25, 2012

A new manufacturing job training program designed to close the so-called "skills gap" will be short and affordable. It may also be a model to use throughout the state.

The state job training center, Pennsylvania Careerlink of Lancaster County, is launching a new kind of class that's two weeks long and combines several types of training. Enrollees will be able to learn basic math and reading skills, technical know-how, and workplace etiquette/communication skills.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of Labor Jane Oates said the Lancaster County Careerlink may be pioneering a new type of pre-employment training program.

"The academics of career readiness, plus the soft skills, plus the pre-vocational training — that's the three-legged stool, and I think probably every Careerlink has at least two of those legs," said Oates. "I don't know that anybody has put all three legs together."

Scott Sheely, executive director of the Lancaster County Workforce Investment Board, said the training program has grown out conversations with manufacturers themselves.

"We have spent a good deal of time trying to unpack that comment that we get from an employer, 'What do you mean that a worker is not quite ready?'" Sheely said.

Michelle Staton, Deputy Secretary for Workforce Development in the state Department of Labor and Industry, said it's "highly likely" the training program being modeled in Lancaster County will be duplicated in other county Careerlink centers.

The first class will get underway in mid-June, and the program will be free to enrollees. It is being funded with state, federal, and private money. Each class will hold up to 25 students. Careerlink is planning to offer up to six classes a year.

"If demand is more than that, we'll do it more frequently, if manufacturers need it," said Sheely. "I mean, we're going to be responsive to whatever comes down the pike."