CAN DO is joining Partners in Education, the Greater Hazleton Chamber of Commerce, Pennsylvania CareerLink® and other community partners to launch the Hazleton Works campaign to address workforce development needs of both employers and job seekers in Greater Hazleton.
The campaign’s objective is to develop a collaboration between schools, businesses and organizations to address area workforce development needs and identify how individuals can gain the appropriate training and skills for those positions.
CAN DO Director of Economic Development Jocelyn Sterenchock said, “As part of our strategic plan, CAN DO has placed a focus on the facilitation of workforce development initiatives that will benefit Greater Hazleton. Through the Hazleton Works campaign, we plan to help develop active industry partnerships through organic engagement with the community.”
Hazleton Works was launched as a result of findings from the Education, Workforce, and Training Needs Assessment. The study was commissioned by Partners in Education and conducted by The Institute for Public Policy & Economic Development at Wilkes University. The assessment was funded using part of a grant the Greater Hazleton Chamber of Commerce received last fall from Luzerne County to undertake economic development initiatives. The grant was part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding the county received from the state.
The study’s findings were gathered by reviewing the results of responses to a survey of local employers and interviews with businesses and organizations, as well as Hazleton Area School District personnel and leaders of higher education institutions.
Among its findings, the study showed that the majority of Greater Hazleton’s population (33 percent) falls in the 20-44 age range, with a median age of 39.8. More than 85 percent of area residents are high school graduates or higher and nearly 21 percent have at least obtained a bachelor’s degree.
Partners in Education Executive Director Cathy Colangelo said, “The assessment was well-received and we appreciate the time and consideration of the businesses and education partners that participated. We were pleased with the thoroughness of the responses and feel it will set a great foundation for us to begin developing strategic plans for the business education partnership as we come out on the other side of the pandemic. Our services have been available to school districts, students and the business community for over 20 years but the invaluable information we received from the assessment provides us with an opportunity to evaluate our programs and services in order to meet the current needs of all of our stakeholders.”
PA CareerLink® Administrator Christine Jensen said, “The Luzerne/Schuylkill Workforce Development Board and the PA CareerLink® Luzerne County are excited to partner with CAN DO on the Hazleton Works project. We look forward to working with them to educate those in Greater Hazleton about high priority occupations in the area, what skills and education are needed to succeed in those careers, and how they can get the education they may need to obtain one of these positions. The PA CareerLink® may be able to assist with funding for training in high priority occupations and can always assist in matching job seekers with local employers.”
The Hazleton Works campaign will focus on developing a collaborative effort between schools, employers and community organizations to help make students and educators aware of local opportunities, improve the understanding of the education and training required for these positions, and help schools tailor their curriculums and course offerings to align with the regional needs. Through this campaign, potential students within the region should be able to see what careers exist, where to get the training for said career, and finally, where the employment opportunities are after the training is complete.
Greater Hazleton Chamber of Commerce President Mary Malone said, “Hazleton Works is the type of program that breathes life into the Chamber’s mission ‘to provide valuable information as well as help improve the business climate and quality of life in Greater Hazleton’. The program will serve our members as well as the community at large by informing them of what opportunities are right here, and the various paths to spark that newly desired career. The other aspect that has proven personally and professionally rewarding is the partnership of many organizations, led by CAN DO, to create and coordinate this initiative. When we work together, the opportunities to build our community and progress forward are limitless.”
The Hazleton Works website at www.hazletonworks.com will serve as a central location for the public to discover training opportunities within the Greater Hazleton area. The website, which was created by Posture Interactive, is designed to assist high school students who are looking for industrial training to complete their diploma, people seeking their first career or job training, displaced workers, and individuals who are re-entering the workforce and need to update their skills training.
The website features a link to a career assessment to help individuals match their personality with a career passion, as well as a list of career fields and the colleges and universities that offer educational training programs for those fields. There is a section with links to the Pennsylvania CareerLink® website where employers, job seekers, veterans, and young adults can receive information about career opportunities and internships. The site will also include information on local job fairs and funding sources for trainings.
As the program moves forward, program facilitators are optimistic that current and future students will benefit through programs that target specific skill gaps. The initiative plans to serve as a conduit for students and parents, exposing them to workforce and career options earlier in their K-12 education and while boosting awareness of local opportunities through virtual programs and events.