Macro photo of tooth wheel mechanism with CAREER, EDUCATION, ABILITY, VISION, SKILL, GOAL and POTENTIAL words imprinted on metal surface
Pa. needs more skilled workers — what role can community colleges play?
Airdate: November 01, 2022
Pennsylvania had a record low unemployment rate of 4.1% and more than 263,000 Pennsylvanians were looking for work in September.
At the same time, and no doubt you’ve noticed or been affected by it, Pennsylvania employers are having trouble finding enough workers to fill positions.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a factor in the labor shortage but even before the pandemic, there weren’t enough skilled workers in the state.
Alex Halper Vice President of Government Affairs at the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry appeared on The Spark Tuesday and talked about the jobs that are needed in Pennsylvania,”One of Pennsylvania’s great strengths is how diverse the diversity of our economy. And that is true throughout the Commonwealth and all the various regions. When we hear from chamber members and employers across the state that they can’t find people, it represents a cross-section of all those industries. We hear it from the energy sector. We hear it from manufacturers. Health care in particular around the state, many communities. The health care institutions are their top employers. And they cannot find people. And the long term projections for health care are daunting. That, of course, is a concern from an employer perspective, but also just for us as Pennsylvanians, we need a robust health care system, I.T. professionals. It is broad. So that means that for kids or for incumbent workers and adults who are looking to make themselves more employable or to upskill, there are a lot of options out there.
Elizabeth Bolden, President & CEO of the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges indicated that the state’s community colleges have added 80 new programs on top of the job training programs they already have to train or re-train workers. She added that comes after consulting with employers on the kind of jobs needed,”They’re very flexible and nimble. So if a hospital comes to a community college and says we need a phlebotomy program, for example, up and running in six months, community colleges are able to respond to that need very quickly. And then you have to use data. I mean, the state has a lot of data. There are private companies that we used to do labor market projections. And that’s how we can tell that there is going to be a need in health care. There’s going to be a need in it. There’s going to be a need for CDL drivers. And then we adjust our programing accordingly. So I mentioned the 80 programs that we’ve started in this academic year. The same holds true when programs are no longer relevant. The colleges will begin to teach those programs out so that we are not educating students into poverty, into jobs that don’t exist.”