Catalyst

PA Chamber Foundation: Setting up Students for Future Success in PA

Pennsylvania is home to a number of world-class educational and skills training programs — but did you know it’s also a great place to pursue a rewarding career?

 

From Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, Scranton to Harrisburg and everywhere in between, students getting ready to graduate high school and start the next chapter of their lives have an opportunity to make informed decisions about their future success through exciting programs that already are or will soon be offered through the Pennsylvania Chamber Foundation.

 

Before COVID-19 came to the United States, the PA Chamber was already working to eliminate a workforce skills gap.  And as we work toward our post-pandemic economic recovery, one of the main pillars of our “Bringing PA Back” initiative is workforce.  Specifically, we want to bring bold, innovative workforce development solutions to the forefront to remove barriers for people looking to gain the skills and education to earn a great career, and create more opportunity across the Commonwealth. 

 

Our Foundation’s Career Awareness program — which is now offered virtually and in-person — introduces soon-to-be high school graduates to a number of in-demand, 21st century career pathways that are waiting to be filled across the Keystone State. For instance, if students haven’t yet thought about a job in manufacturing or healthcare — two industries that Pennsylvania is well-known for and where jobs are plentiful — this program is designed to educate them on available pathways and the steps they need to take to jumpstart their careers; while highlighting the many reasons they should keep their newly honed talents right here in the Commonwealth.  In addition, the program helps connect students across the state with employers who are eager to fill open positions and share their stories with the next generation of skilled workers.

 

The PA Chamber Foundation also invites students and their parents to access free tools and resources available on our workforce-focused website, which includes:

 

  • Insight into the 33 most in-demand careers available in Pennsylvania;
  • A Career Calculator designed to help students and their parents understand the time and financial commitments they must make toward their chosen career path;
  • A Workforce Resources sheet that is helping businesses identify new talent pipelines and solutions to employment barriers; and
  • A Workforce Spotlight that highlights PA Chamber member schools and businesses, highlighting best practices across the state’s workforce.

 

Several schools already enjoy participating in this program, which celebrates the value of STEM and all post-secondary pathways, helping students determine the career path that best suits their needs.

 

A related focus — and one that ties into the PA Chamber’s goal of Equality of Opportunity — is ensuring that students in underserved populations have the resources they need to pursue a rewarding career.  Between the last census and the most recent one, the youth population has declined across 60 percent of the state. Our Foundation is working to reverse this downward population trend by laying the groundwork on new programs that will connect employers with young people in schools, raise awareness about in-demand jobs and encourage those students to stay and work in Pennsylvania.

 

“This upcoming program is focused on bringing Pennsylvania Chamber members directly into classrooms or after-school programs, to get the kids there excited about the career opportunities they can pursue here and talk about all the great things life in Pennsylvania has to offer,” PA Chamber Workforce Development Executive Allen Norton said. “What’s more, the outreach is targeted toward schools where more than 50 percent of the student body is considered economically disadvantaged, so students may not have previously been exposed to the career opportunities we’re planning to share.  We’re looking forward to partnering with business leaders who are eager to showcase their companies — and their needs — in front of these students, and work toward keeping them here in the Commonwealth.”

 

In following with our “Bringing PA Back” initiative, the PA Chamber Foundation is also working on programs that intertwine the goals of Workforce Development and Equality of Opportunity. We’re tackling the workforce shortage crisis head-on by recognizing and taking action on what’s keeping people out of work — lack of access to childcare, an absence of job training opportunities, transportation issues, burdensome occupational licensing requirements and the challenges of re-entering the workforce from the criminal justice system.

 

“As we work to bring equality of opportunity to the workforce, we’re inspired by many of our members who are showing true leadership in providing new workforce opportunities,” Norton said. “Google’s ‘Last Mile’ program is providing coding classes in prisons nationwide, to help re-entrants enter into IT careers. Sheetz has implemented paid family leave for new parents as well as childcare supports. Eurofins and PSECU both offer on-site childcare for their employees; and UPMC is reskilling and upskilling staff for emerging opportunities. This is just a small sampling of how businesses are stepping up to the plate to provide flexibility for workers and retain the talent they have, while recruiting the talent of tomorrow.” 

 

To connect with your future workforce or learn more about what’s coming next, contact PA Chamber Workforce Development Executive Allen Norton at anorton@pachamber.org.   

 

On behalf of the Pennsylvania Chamber and businesses across the Commonwealth that want to attract and retain the world’s best workforce, thank you for partnering with us and we look forward to connecting soon!

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Founded in 1916, the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry is the state's largest broad-based business association, with its membership comprising businesses of all sizes and across all industry sectors. The PA Chamber is The Statewide Voice of BusinessTM.