April 26, 1999
On behalf of Gov. Tom Ridge, Lt. Gov. Mark Schweiker today helped launch 3Com's NetPrep program, a statewide initiative to provide high-tech training for high school and community college students.

Lt. Gov. Schweiker was joined by 3Com Corporation President and Chief Operating Officer Bruce L. Claflin at Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC) for the announcement.

"This new partnership continues the Ridge Administration's commitment to preparing students for a high-tech global economy," Lt. Gov. Schweiker said. "The 3Com NetPrep program aligns with the goals of Link-to-Learn by equipping our students with the high-tech skills they need to fill Pennsylvania's estimated 8,000 to 10,000 high-tech jobs currently unfilled.

"Students in the NetPrep program will be prepared for high-paying jobs in the 'New Pennsylvania.'"

Link-to-Learn - Gov. Ridge's three-year, $132 million education-technology program - helped 3Com, a global leader in networking, to offer the NetPrep program in Pennsylvania.

"This initiative will offer new career paths in network technology for Pennsylvania's students and employees," said Claflin. "The future of the information industry depends on a skilled, information-literate workforce. 3Com is committed to sharing our knowledge and providing the education needed to meet this challenge."

HACC is NetPrep's first supersite. HACC's supersite status authorizes it to train other schools in Pennsylvania and throughout the Northeastern United States to offer 3Com's NetPrep program. HACC currently is training teachers from eight Pennsylvania community colleges and vocational schools, as well as teachers from New Jersey and Maryland.

"This program reflects Harrisburg Area Community College's responsiveness to the changing needs of the workforce and our commitment to providing students with the skills required to succeed in a highly competitive field," said Dr. Edna V. Baehre, president of Harrisburg Area Community College. "By extending advanced college credits to HACC-bound high school students enrolled in the program, we have created a continuum of learning that will benefit students and their future employers."

The eight Pennsylvania schools that are receiving the RTC training at HACC through the initiative are: Forbes Road East Area Vocational-Technical School (AVTS), Allegheny County; Greater Altoona Career & Technology Center (CTC), Blair County; Harrisburg Area Community College, Dauphin County; Northwest Tri-County Intermediate Unit (IU), Erie County; Franklin County CTC, Franklin County; CTC of Lackawanna County, Lackawanna County; Montgomery County Intermediate Unit, Montgomery County; and Northampton County Community College, Northampton County.

These eight schools were strategically selected as Regional Training Centers (RTC) to ensure all Pennsylvania students and residents had access to the universal high-tech training program.

An RTC trains teachers from other schools to offer the NetPrep program to students. Eleven Pennsylvania schools piloted and currently teach the NetPrep program to their students. The schools are: Chester County Vocational Schools in Chester County; Milton Hershey School and HACC in Dauphin County; Penn Delco School District, Delaware County Vocational Schools, Delaware County Community College and Upper Darby School District in Delaware County; Lancaster County CTC and Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology in Lancaster County; Allentown School District in Lehigh County; and Susquenita School District in Perry County.

3Com's NetPrep program uniquely offers a seamless transition between high school-level coursework and advanced training opportunities offered at the college level. Pennsylvania high schools, vocational schools and community colleges also are collaborating for this initiative.

For example, HACC maintains a cooperative relationship with the Susquenita School District, Perry County, where NetPrep graduates receive tuition reimbursement to defray their college costs. In addition, students who graduate from Susquenita may be given college credit for their NetPrep courses if they attend Harrisburg Area Community College and pursue remaining classes. Along with NetPrep regional teacher training, 3Com also announced it will sponsor an instructor at the Commonwealth Technology Center (CTC), providing continuing education programs for state agencies' technology employees.

The NetPrep program addresses the escalating need for computer specialists in the U.S. economy ­ an industry occupation projected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to grow by 1.3 million new jobs by 2006. According to the Information Technology Association of America, more than 340,000 information technology (IT) positions currently are vacant nationwide. By the year 2000, 3Com¹s NetPrep program expects to produce thousands of graduates per year to fill this exploding job market for networking professionals.

NetPrep is a comprehensive, platform-neutral, school-to-career curriculum, which begins in high school and extends into community college and professional network management. After completing the four NetPrep courses offered at the high school level, students may receive a widely recognized, industry-standard certification from the National Association of Communication System Engineers (NACSE), qualifying them for an entry-level information technology position. The two-year college curriculum consists of eight specific courses, leading to a senior network specialist certification from NACSE. More information about 3Com¹s NetPrep program is available at www.3com.com/netprep.

Lt. Gov. Schweiker noted that students would benefit from Gov. Ridge's innovative "SciTech Scholars" and "GI Bill for the New Economy" scholarship programs.

The SciTech Scholars Program provides up to $9,000 for Pennsylvania students studying technology at Pennsylvania colleges and universities. In return, they agree to work in Pennsylvania for up to three years after they graduate. To qualify, students have to maintain a 3.0 Grade Point Average (GPA); complete an internship with a technology-intensive company in Pennsylvania; and work in Pennsylvania at least one year for each year of scholarship assistance.

The GI Bill for the New Economy is the second element of Gov. Ridge's plan to prepare Pennsylvania's workforce for the technology-based economy and to plug the "brain drain" of the state's best and brightest students, who often take their talents and energy elsewhere.

Through this innovative new scholarship program, eligible full-time students and current workers pursuing associate's degrees at community colleges or two-year technical schools can receive scholarships of $1,000 per year. Eligible, part-time students pursuing associate's degrees can receive scholarships that will cover up to 20 percent of their tuition and fees. To qualify for a scholarship, students must maintain a 3.0 GPA and complete their associate's degree.

With more than 200 million customers worldwide, 3Com Corporation connects more people in more ways to information than any other networking company. 3Com delivers innovative information access products and network system solutions to large, medium and small enterprises; carriers and network service providers; and consumers.

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