• Why Choose Trade Schools II?

    Posted by Terrence Smith on 12/17/2014 2:15:00 PM
    This series of blogs featuring news articles supporting why trade schools should be an option for many secondary students in Western PA is a monthly series to inform many parents, educators, students, and employers about the demand for skilled workers in Business & Industry here in Southwestern PA. 
    I left off with the first blog, "Why Trade Schools" last month and I featured some comments made by business and industry on the importance of needed skilled workers that can fill the demand by obtaining skills from High School Career & Training Centers, Technical Institutions, Community Colleges and other Universities. 
    In the month of October, Joyce Gannon, of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette featured an article headed as, "Energy Boost" a project led by Chevron will invest in education and training in the region. Ms. Gannon reported, after Chevron Corp. spent $3.7 billion to buy Atlas Energy's assets and gas reserves near Pittsburgh in 2011, the California based company began contemplating how to establish a philanthropic presence in the region where it was poised to become a major player in the Marcellus Shale boom. So, officials from Claud Worthington Benedum Foundation, a long established Pittsburgh-based charitable fund built on the fortunes of oil wildcatter Michael Benedum. Chevron considered it's connection with the non-profit to be not so much the fact that both had a long history in the oil and gas industry, said Jim Denova, the foundation's vice president, but that the Benedum Foundation's grant-making focuses on largely on education and workforce training in areas where Chevron would soon be doing business: southwestern Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
    Ms. Gannon also reported that the initiative will focus boosting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math), efforts and technical training in 27 counties in southwestern Pennsylvania, northern West Virginia, and eastern Ohio, with the goal of better preparing students to work in the region's energy and manufacturing sectors.  On Tuesday, October 21, 2014, Chevron and the Benedum Foundation formalized their efforts with Chevron's announcement that it will invest $20 million over the next four years in the Appalachia Partnership Initiative.
    Also featured in the article was Nigel Hearne, president of Chevron Appalachia, stated, "This is a unique window to create economic prosperity." This is the key to this whole resurgence in Western Pennsylvania, economic prosperity! Specifically, the initiative calls for Chevron to expand it's investment in STEM education for K-12 public school districts, and to develop more post-secondary programs and certifications that focus on technical skills. 
    In the public schools, the initiative will expand Chevron's Project Lead The Way program from five to 20 school districts by next year. For post-secondary students, the initiative will work with ShaleNet, a workforce training project for the oil and natural gas industries, to develop scholarships at four community colleges and target technical training that will help students fill available jobs.
    So, this article shows a huge commitment being put into K-12 as well as post-secondary and trade schools and technical institution are included. The jobs are there where are the skilled workers? I will be continuing Why Trade Schools next month. Happy Holidays to All!!!
    Comments (0)
  • Why Choose Trade Schools?

    Posted by Terrence Smith on 11/19/2014 2:00:00 PM
    I can recall when trade skills were taught and available in our high schools across the Commonwealth of PA. Then the trades were removed from the public schools due to cost issues in education. Now, there is a huge demand for individuals with trade skills and the chasm of qualified skilled individuals and the demand for such skilled workers is discussed almost everyday. Well, in this blog I'm featuring most of those features, articles, and comments from the newspapers, forums, and individuals.
    Here's what Michael Bradwell reported from the Washington County Business Journal- "Do not rule out skilled trades as a career possibility". Mr. Bradwell states, "According to Jason Fincke, executive director of the Builder's Guild of Western Pennsylvania, which represents all building trade unions in Western Pennsylvania, trade union schools do not charge tuition, regardless of whether the applicant wants to be a carpenter, electrician, or any other skilled trade worker".
    Mr. Bradwell also reported, "Fincke also recommended that guidance counselors encourage more students to consider their school district's career and technology schools as a way to explore skills". No, learning a skilled trade isn't for everyone, but the Feb. 10 seminar sponsored by State Rep. Brandon Neuman and State Sen. Tim Solobay was part of a continuing effort to encourage area high schools and their guidance counselors to ensure that students are at least considering skilled trades as an option when they graduate.
    Mr. Bradwell's report continues- Do not get me wrong, I am not opposed to students wanting to go to college. We will always need good teachers, engineers, geologists and others who will need a college degree.But we are doing a disservice to students who may possess skills that require other kinds of training, that upon completion can provide them with good earnings with trades that are highly valued by contractors and demanded by businesses and consumers alike. With the advent of the natural gas boom in Western Pennsylvania, as well as some large, multi-year highway projects to better handle the increased traffic loads brought on by the energy industry, the demand for people with skilled trades shows no signs of abating. The seminar that I attended focused on construction trades related to heavy highway construction, but as one trade union representative noted, demand for welders is also being driven by the pipeline and midstream processing buildout as natural gas extraction continues to grow in the Marcellus Shale.
    Now, although this was a lengthy report about trades, there is much supportive information contained in the report to suggest that it may be vital for guidance counselors, students and parents to at least consider researching and crunching the tuition numbers for attending a trades school, institution, or apprenticeship. I will have another blog shortly following this one. 
    Comments (0)