A skilled workforce is at the heart of successful economic development. Northeastern Pennsylvania attracts many national and international companies every year because of the area’s quality workforce and a support system of agencies that help them succeed. Here’s a look at just a few of these agencies and information about some of the programs they offer companies in our region.
The PA CareerLink offices provide services to employers in a variety of businesses and industries. Staff members can help companies with such things as prescreening and assessment of applicants to ensure they meet job descriptions and skills qualifications and providing information regarding tax credits and grants.
These services include the WorkKeys program, which tests applicants to measure basic, foundational skill levels in potential employees and assess if they have the necessary traits employers are looking for in their available positions.
Luzerne/Schuylkill Workforce Investment Board, Inc.
Through the Luzerne/Schuylkill Workforce Investment Board, Inc., (L/S WIB) employers qualify for the On-the-Job Training Program which helps provide grants to help train its workforce.
On-the-Job Training reduces the costs associated with training new employees by paying companies 50 percent of a new trainee’s wages for up to six months or $5,000. The L/S WIB works with Pennsylvania CareerLink staff who screen potential hires for program eligibility, work with companies on developing a mutually agreed-upon training contract, handle most of the paperwork and initiate a reimbursement schedule for monthly payments made directly to the company.
NEPA Consortia of Industry Partnerships
Industry Partnerships are employer/worker consortiums that bring together companies with similar products, markets and human resource needs. The L/S WIB combined the three industry partnerships of food processing, logistics and transportation, and energy into a partnership called the Northeast Pennsylvania Consortia of Industry Partnerships.
This partnership gives companies a more cost-effective way to provide their employees with training to strengthen their skill sets. Industry partnership member companies can obtain training grants that reimburse them 50 percent of the cost of employee training.
“For example, the food processing industry is experiencing an influx of new technology and automation. The partnership prioritized training in electrical and electronics and motor controls to meet the skills required by the technology upgrades. It also sponsored training for supervisors and workers preparing for promotion to management.” said Trina Moss, L/S WIB project manager for job seekers and employer services.
Northeast Pennsylvania Manufacturers and Employers Association
The Northeast Pennsylvania Manufacturers and Employers Association (MAEA) conducts training programs like basic and continuing education courses for employees, human resources skills seminars for managers, and specialized, industry-specific courses to prepare companies for future challenges. These include team leadership skills, supervisory development, management development, communication mastery, administrative professional/support staff and human resources certificate series. Programs are also available for interactive executive team building, hands-on computer training, process improvement training, purchasing training and safety training.
MAEA also designs customized training programs it can perform on site for companies. This allows businesses to devise a flexible schedule, meet their unique needs and conduct everything in a group setting so employees are trained together and work as a team.
“As the economy and technology rapidly evolve, MAEA stands ready to provide the training necessary to meet our employers’ needs,” said MAEA President Darlene J. Robbins.
The Northeast Pennsylvania Manufacturers and Employers Council operates the Youth Employability Skills (Y.E.S.) program throughout the region, teaming up with high schools to prepare students with the soft skills they will need to enter the workforce after graduation.
Northeastern Pennsylvania Industrial Resource Center
The Northeastern Pennsylvania Industrial Resource Center (NEPIRC) is a not-for-profit organization that works with manufacturing companies to address their unique challenges, maximize their profitability and create regional job opportunities. NEPIRC offers programs focusing on leadership development essentials, corporate culture services, youth apprenticeship and public training, as well as career-readiness training for high school students.
“We offer specific training in certain tactical skills that employees need to possess in manufacturing to be proficient and do their jobs well. Once they have this essential training, they are better equipped to handle their duties,” NEPIRC Executive Director/CEO Eric J. Esoda said. “We also train managers and supervisors in the proper supervision and leadership of others. This helps to reduce employee turnover and teaches managers and supervisors how to adapt to diversity in the workplace and handle any crisis that occurs.”
Partners in Education
Partners in Education is a nonprofit organization focused on working with schools, students and employers to match the needs of industry to the skill sets being taught at the high school level. The organization also places an emphasis on introducing high school students to the career opportunities available in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
More than 20 companies and educational members have come together in the mutually beneficial partnership. Students learn which skills are required in the workplace, teachers discover how to adapt their classroom courses to teach those skills and employers have the opportunity to introduce students to their businesses. Partners in Education also sponsors the annual “Jobs for You” expo in conjunction with State Representative Tarah Toohil. This expo gives high school students a chance to meet local employers and discover more about area job opportunities.
“Partners in Education’s goal is to bridge the gap between educators, local businesses and students to develop an informed workforce. We help companies connect with local students and educators to find out what businesses are in the area and the types of jobs that are available. For example, we held a roundtable session with local human resources representatives and guidance counselors to provide companies with a chance to share what they do,” Partners in Education Executive Director Cathy Colangelo said.
Greater Hazleton Chamber of Commerce
The Greater Hazleton Chamber of Commerce provides a variety of seminars, workshops and webinars to educate employers and employees. The many topics include OSHA training, workplace safety, information technology, workers’ compensation, health care reform, business planning and human resources. “The Greater Hazleton Chamber of Commerce strives to be on the cutting edge of current topics,” said Chamber Vice President of Marketing Leann Fallabel. “We are continuously searching for new topics to offer and always looking for new partners to share their knowledge and expertise in their fields with their fellow chamber members and businesses from throughout Greater Hazleton.”