The House Republican Policy Committee Tuesday heard from officials from Pennsylvania colleges, universities and technical schools, in an attempt to learn more about how those institutions are preparing students for their future careers, said Rep. Karen Boback (R-Columbia), who hosted the hearing at Penn State Wilkes-Barre.
“As a former educator, I am well aware of the importance of a quality education for the students of our state. In educating students, we truly are training the leaders of the future,” Rep. Boback said. “It goes without saying that we should make sure that these students have the best preparation for a job market which seems to be ever-changing.”
Testimony centered on two topics: Tying work force needs with academic curriculum and practical applications of learned skills to trades and professions.
Among the testifiers were officials from Luzerne County Community College, Wilkes University, Penn State University, Misericordia University, and the Pennsylvania College of Technology.
Many of those who testified explained that career preparation varies depending on a campus’ location and on fields that are currently in demand.
“I am keenly aware that our campuses are a reflection of the broader communities they serve,” said Penn State Wilkes-Barre Chancellor Dr. Charles Davis. “Changes in our local economy, especially those that impact our students and families present challenges, but they also create new opportunities. Providing access to fields of study that inspire the interests and careers of our students and serve the changing needs of our local communities remains Penn State’s highest priority.”
“Wilkes remains as committed as ever to aligning our curriculum to the workforce needs of businesses so our students can have successful careers and fulfilling lives,” said Wilkes University President Patrick Leahy. “We recognize that we are not educating students for a single job. We know many of our students will have numerous jobs and most likely a few careers over their lifetimes.”
“Industry is faced with a shortage of skilled labor and there are few individuals qualified to fill these positions,” said Luzerne County Community College Vice President of Workforce and Community Development Susan Spry. “Communities, schools, employers and our public officials are collectively working toward a solution to what we call the skills gap. We need to identify what skills are necessary to qualify individuals for high demand occupations and respond with programs that produce graduates who have the technical and soft skills to fulfill industry needs.”Copies of testimony will be posted on the House Republican Policy Committee website.