Hazleton Public Transit Director Ralph Sharp reviewed transportation services to Humboldt Industrial Park and Christine Jensen of the PA CareerLink discussed the CareerLink’s On-the-Job Training and Summer 2019 internship programs during a recent Humboldt Park Association meeting.
Sharp asked attendees for their assistance in promoting HPT’s Humboldt Industrial Park bus route to their employees and coworkers. Sharp is looking for input from employers and employees in the park on ways to increase ridership on the Humboldt route and how the service can best accommodate everyone who works in the park.
Sharp noted that nearly 5,000 individuals traveled into and out of Humboldt Industrial Park last year on HPT buses. He encouraged meeting attendees to promote the bus service to their employees and coworkers and remind them that it costs just $3 for a roundtrip bus ticket on the Humboldt route.
“We try to stop at as many plants in the park as we possibly can. Unfortunately, there are some parking lots that can’t accommodate the size of our buses so we can’t drop off right at the door of every facility but we do make an effort to go right to the door as often as possible,” Sharp said. “The Humboldt bus route has been very valuable for many years. It’s a very cost-effective means to get to work for people who are looking to save money on their commute and it’s also been extremely valuable for people who don’t drive and need transportation options to get to work. Additionally, it has helped to cut down on the traffic going into and out of the park.”
The current Humboldt route makes inbound and outbound stops on weekdays at eight different locations in the park between the hours of 5 a.m. and 6 p.m. Sharp said that if there is an increase in ridership again, the route may expand to benefit more employers and employees seeking transportation to and from work.
Plans are underway to form a subcommittee of Park Association members who will meet with Sharp to review the route schedule. The subcommittee members will make suggestions that could be implemented to address the transportation issues that exist and how the route could be more beneficial for everyone in the park. Anyone who has input on the current route or suggestions for modifications can contact Nancy Stasko, CAN DO director of administration, at 570-455-1508, ext. 2032 for information on joining the subcommittee or contact Sharp at the HPT office at 570-459-5414.
Jensen, executive director of Pennsylvania CareerLink Luzerne County, explained that the On-the-Job Training (OJT) program helps companies receive some reimbursement for hiring and training eligible and skilled individuals who are unemployed or under-employed. She said companies in Humboldt Industrial Park have received around $30,000 a year in reimbursement by using the program.
The OJT Program is a federally-funded program and is underwritten by the PA Department of Labor through funding received by the Luzerne/Schuylkill Workforce Investment Board, Inc. Companies that agree to train new employees for up to six months receive reimbursement for up to 50 percent of OJT wages for up to 1,040 hours. The maximum reimbursement per employee is $5,000.
Jensen said the CareerLink staff is there to help companies take part in the program. “We work with employers like you to train new hires. The On-the-Job Training program can be used at your facilities to train new hires in high-priority occupations. We’d be happy to come out and talk to you or your human resources staff about the program. We’re here for you every step of the way,” she said.
Jensen also announced that the PA CareerLink received a grant totaling more than $300,000 to fund its 2019 Summer Internship Program. The program, which is funded through the Department of Labor and Industry in partnership with the Luzerne/Schuylkill Workforce Investment Board, benefits companies that agree to employ young adults ages 18 to 24 for 25 to 40 hours a week for eight weeks between May 6 and August 30.
Reimbursement for the program is available to companies that are located in both Luzerne and Schuylkill counties. The goal of the program is to provide summer internship opportunities at no cost to the employer. The grant will compensate interns between $10.35 an hour and $12.50 an hour.
“We want local, young adults to have the opportunity to gain the experience they need to excel in their future careers,” Jensen said. “This program gives the interns an opportunity to learn about your business and how it runs and hopefully they’ll stay here after college. We’re encouraging our young workforce to stay in Pennsylvania.”
Jensen explained that the PA CareerLink staff will pre-assess interns to make sure they are a good fit for both the company and the position. She added that the program has allowed young employees to upgrade their skills to meet the technological demands of today’s workforce.
In continuing about educating the future workforce, Cathy Colangelo, executive director of Partners in Education, spoke about sponsorship and vendor opportunities for businesses at the second annual Women In Science Spring Symposium, which will be held on Tuesday, April 9 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Premier Catering & Events at Genetti Ballrooms.
The event is open to female students from the Hazleton Area, Weatherly Area and Crestwood school districts. Colangelo explained that Partners in Education receives funding from the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program earmarked for those three districts.
The half-day seminar brings together professional women in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields to educate students, aspiring scientists and the community about women’s careers in STEM. Through presentations and interactive panel discussions, the presenters will share their personal journeys and insights with the goal of sparking those in attendance to get inspired and learn more about women in STEM careers and how they can begin their own journeys. This year’s speakers include CAN DO Coordinator of Entrepreneurial Services Jocelyn Sterenchock, who will discuss the connection between entrepreneurship and the STEM fields.
Colangelo said, “There is a gap in general with females entering STEM positions. Girls just don’t think about jobs in these fields. This symposium is a fantastic way to show them that there are women in these careers, give them options and show them what opportunities are available.”
More than 170 girls attended the inaugural event last year and 21 businesses served as vendors/sponsors of the event. Vendor companies have the opportunity to set up a table to introduce young women to their company and the STEM career opportunities they have to offer. Colangelo explained that Partners in Education is a nonprofit organization and all proceeds from the sponsorships are used to fund the cost of the symposium.
In other Humboldt Park Association business, an election of officers was held for the 2019 year. President Brian Poveromo of American Eagle Outfitters, Vice President Tracy Karchner of Karchner Logistics, Treasurer Tony Cortese of The Nature’s Bounty and Secretary Nancy Stasko of CAN DO will retain their same positions from last year.
The next Humboldt Park Association meeting will be held on Thursday, April 4.