Not even the upheavals in the national and local economies have blunted the need for skilled workers in the technical and manufacturing fields. To meet the demand, a number of efforts, spun out through non-profit as well as for-profit entities, have surfaced in the region.
New Century Careers, a nonprofit organization designed to create and manage work force initiatives, is expanding its Manufacturing 2000 training program. New Century is adding hands-on computer skills training essential to the operation of computer numerical control equipment.
Manufacturing 2000 provides tuition-free training to qualified applicants for entry-level welder and machinist positions.
Community College of Allegheny County is introducing courses as part of its new role as a certified regional training academy for international networking giant Cisco Systems Inc.
"The information technology field is targeted as being one of the five most important industry sectors in our local economy, but there currently aren't enough qualified workers to meet the region's needs," says David Just, dean of CCAC's Workforce Training and Development.
Included in the curriculum is a 560-hour course that prepares students to take the Cisco Certified Network Associate and the Cisco Certified Network Professional certification exams. These certifications demonstrate proficiency in computer network design, construction and maintenance of small- to medium-sized networks.
Wrightco Technologies, an Ebensburg technical training center, Verizon and the Pennsylvania Department of Education are teaming up to provide fiber optics and communications training to students and displaced workers in the Pittsburgh area.
The education department and Verizon each put up $75,000 to fund the program, which will provide a 26-week fiber optics/communications program.
"Trainees spend time working with the equipment, and by the end of the program, they come away with a knowledge base that allows them to be immediately successful on the job in the telecommunications or electronics field," says Eva Dolges, Wrightco administrator.
Four women entrepreneurs will each take away part of a $25,000 prize to be awarded in a business plan competition this fall.
WriteIdea offers a cash prize to woman-owned businesses in Fayette, Greene, Washington and Westmoreland counties. Plans will be evaluated for innovation, employment capability, a management plan, high growth potential and overall viability. Finalists will be invited to Seton Hill College to make a presentation in support of their plan and interview with the judges panel.
The competition is open to start-up businesses or those in operation for less than a year that are at least 51 percent owned by a woman, with a maximum sales volume of $100,000.
Plans will be accepted until Aug. 30, with winners announced in September. For more information, contact Seton Hill College's National Educational Center for Women in Business at (724) 830-4625.