A statewide initiative announced today 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 a high-demand, family-sustaining jobs.
The program, JobTrakPA, will use fast and affordable retraining to help PA’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.
Dr. Johnson noted that each of these industries is projected to grow substantially over the next few years, and highly-skilled workers are in demand.
“It is projected that there will be 4,800 job openings in advanced manufacturing in the coming years, over 32,000 job openings in energy distribution, production and conservation by 2016, and more than 9,000 job openings in healthcare information technology by 2016,” Dr. Johnson said. “As always, the community colleges stand poised and ready to respond to workforce needs. JobTrakPA will be a vital tool in getting Pennsylvanians trained and back to work.”
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.
Throughout the Southern Alleghenies, Pennsylvania Highlands Community College has developed a Healthcare Technology Specialist associate degree program. This Associate of Applied Science degree already has over 15 students enrolled, with more spots available for the upcoming semesters.
“Enrollment in our Healthcare Information Technology program has far exceeded expectations,” states Dr. Walter Asonevich, President of Pennsylvania Highlands Community College. “These students are interested in education that leads to a rewarding career and provides a family sustaining wage. The programs offered via JobTrackPA will provide these opportunities.”
The Healthcare Technology Specialist degree prepares graduates for the growing healthcare technology field. Due to a shift toward electronic medical records and an aging population, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor anticipates the need for more than 9,000 trained medical records and health information technicians by 2016. This program will help prepare our students to fill those vital roles.