A workforce training initiative aimed at improving employability skills among high school graduates has done so well in schools throughout Schuylkill, Luzerne and Erie counties over the past six years, that two Penn State University campuses will continue to offer scholarships to students who have successfully completed the workforce training program. McCann School of Business and Technology has also stated that they will also include graduates within an existing scholarship they currently offer.

The YES Northeast Certificate Program, offered by the Northeast Pennsylvania Manufacturers and Employers Council (MAEC), is a 120-hour, 1 credit elective for high school seniors that teaches skills sought by employers throughout business and industry. YES has continued to grow since it was first offered in just one local school district during the 2006-2007 school year, and today is offered in 15 school districts and one intermediate unit.

As part of the program, businesses and industries participate in various ways, including offering tours and training at their facilities for the students, as well as providing preferential interviews for job applicants who have successfully completed the course.

The number of participating employers has grown substantially, from about 40 during the program's first year to 330 companies today. More than 420 high school seniors have received the YES certificate to date.

YES graduates, who attend Penn State Schuylkill or Penn State Hazleton, will be eligible for the scholarships. The two Penn State campuses will award a $1,000 scholarship for students taking 12 or more credits or a $500 scholarship for students with 6 to 11 credits.

"We were very excited and honored when Penn State Schuylkill officials told us that they believe in the YES program and were going to offer scholarships to our graduates," said MAEC President Darlene J. Robbins. "Penn State Hazleton agreed to participate as well. This further shows the value of this program and should convince other school districts to implement the YES program."

McCann School of Business and Technology has also recently come forward to endorse the program. "The Pottsville Campus of McCann School of Business offers 25 Scholarships through a partnership with the Imagine America Foundation," said Campus Director Shannon Brennan. "McCann considers completion of the YES Program as a favorable factor in the decisions as to whom to award the Imagine America Scholarships."

Workforce training programs are very important for economic development as companies often look for areas that have such programs in place.

"In today's competitive business environment, the caliber of the available workforce can make a difference in whether our area secures a project, which translates into more jobs for local residents," said Frank Zukas, president of the Schuylkill Economic Development Corporation. "Workforce development initiatives such as YES help ensure quality employees who are well acquainted with workplace practices and expectations. A well-trained workforce is key to successful economic development."

"Our legislators have been so supportive of the YES program from day one," said MAEA/MAEC Past Chairman Martha M. Herron. "They couldn't have embraced it more. We appreciate their support and the funding they have helped us secure."

For more information on YES Northeast Certificate Program, please contact the Council Office at (570) 622-0940 or email Courtney Fasnacht (cfasnacht\@nepamaec.com or Matt Shuey (mshuey\@nepamaec.com.