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Community colleges launch multi-million dollar retraining program for PA's displaced workers

Published October 04. 2012 05:02PM

HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct. 3, 2012 /PRNewswire/ A statewide initiative announced recently by Pennsylvania's 14 community colleges will help provide critical training to displaced workers in Pennsylvania, equipping them with the skills they need to get back to work in high-demand, family-sustaining jobs.

The program, JobTrakPA, will use fast and affordable retraining to help Pennsylvania's displaced workers regain employment in today's high-demand industries. JobTrakPA was made possible by a $20 million Department of Labor Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College Career Training (TAACCCT) grant awarded to the colleges last fall.

"Pennsylvania employers tell us that they have jobs waiting for workers with career-specific skills in several high-growth industries," said Dr. Alex Johnson, president of the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges and president of the Community College of Allegheny County. "Community colleges are part of a nationwide effort to provide a new skill-set to our workforce that will create career pathways for qualified workers in the shortest possible time."

Currently, there are 15,000 TAA-eligible workers in Pennsylvania. The colleges, along with Pennsylvania CareerLink, are coordinating efforts to reach those workers and connect them to JobTrakPA for retraining and re-employment.

Three high-growth, in-demand industries have been identified as priorities by the colleges. Training in these industries will be offered throughout the state, but will vary by regional needs:

• Advanced Manufacturing;

• Energy Distribution, Production and Conservation; and

• Healthcare Information Technology

Each of the industries is projected to grow substantially over the next few years.

Local Workforce Investment Boards project that there will be 4,800 job openings in advanced manufacturing in the coming years; in the industry of energy distribution, production and conservation over 32,000 job openings are expected by 2016, according to the Pennsylvania Green Jobs Survey Report; and in healthcare information technology, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry estimates there will be more than 9,000 job openings by 2016.

"The community colleges have always been committed to providing students with the workforce skills they need to gain employment and be ready to work on Day One," said Diane Bosak, executive director of the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges. "JobTrakPA is allowing the colleges to collaborate in an unprecedented way with employers to lead students through course completion and into job placement. This initiative will certainly help to respond to state's workforce needs."

In addition to offering training, the community colleges have hired dedicated staff to help ensure students are successful at completing their courses. Following completion, staff will provide job placement assistance. The community colleges have already developed relationships with local employers who are ready to hire students who complete JobTrakPA training.

Additional information about JobTrakPA can be found at

The state's 14 community colleges in the statewide initiative include the Community College of Allegheny County, Community College of Beaver County, Bucks County Community College, Butler County Community College, Delaware County Community College, Harrisburg Area Community College, Lehigh Carbon Community College, Luzerne County Community College, Montgomery County Community College, Northampton Community College, Pennsylvania Highlands Community College, Community College of Philadelphia, Reading Area Community College and Westmoreland County Community College.

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