State representatives aim to ready students for workforce

A report set forth by two state representatives is encouraging news for local career technical school administrators who aim to make sure their students are ready for the workforce.

And in an area U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Howard Township, classified as “working-class,” he said enhancements to tech ed training and job readiness are a benefit for the individual and the employer.

“It’s incredibly important and we have to do everything we can to make sure the workforce in Centre County can have a greater opportunity, and education and CTE training (are) the key to success,” he said. “Increasing access to technical education — it’s a good option for people who don’t want school debt, and we have that kind of quality trained people here in Centre County.”

State Reps. Seth Grove, R-York, and Pat Harkins, D-Erie, released a final report in November on career and technical education from the House Select Subcommittee on Technical Education and Career Readiness.

List includes 40 recommendations in five categories to help better CTE

After almost two years of research, they made a list of 40 recommendations in five categories for CTE institutions.

“Right now, the best help the report provides for CPI is to use it as a measuring tool as to how well we think we are doing,” school President Richard Makin said. “It will undoubtedly help make the case for, and raise the visibility of, career technical education at a time when technical training programs at the high school level are sorely needed.”

The proposal also aligns with Thompson’s mission to help show people they can get the kind of training locally that leads to good-paying and sustainable jobs.

And it can start at the Spring Township-based Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology, which serves as a secondary and post-secondary career technical school for people looking to learn a trade.

“CPI, in particular, is an excellent model,” Thompson said. “For instance, it’s good for local business and industries with the use of its transportation (training) center that used local companies like (Glenn O.) Hawbaker that came to the table and added expertise and brought resources.”

The school is now in the beginning stages of planning a new health and medical sciences facility, and is looking for a business partnership, similar to its partnership with heavy equipment machinery manufacturers Case Corp. and Caterpillar Inc.

Increasing access to technical education is best done when politicians, educators and industry leaders work together, Thompson said.

Thompson’s bill passed by the House, 405-5

He’s working to reintroduce the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act to the Senate — a bill that was passed in September by the House, 405-5.

The bill revises requirements for core indicators of performance, makes it possible for the Department of Education to award grants to eligible institutions for development and enhancement of programs, and repeals a separate mandate for tech prep education, among other strategies, policies and practices.

The subcommittee created House Resolution 102 of 2015 to study and review the commonwealth’s career and technical education policy.

Harkins said the next step is to get support from the General Assembly.

Britney Milazzo: 814-231-4648, @M11azzo