Dec. 12, 2006
HACC, Central Pennsylvania's Community College, has received a $2 million job training grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to help support the region's manufacturing workforce.

"Nearly half of the region's manufacturing workers are over 45 and nearly 20 percent are within 10 years of retirement," said Dr. Edna Baehre, president of HACC. "That creates a real challenge for our region.

"Many of these workers are highly skilled, but need to learn new advanced technology," she said. "What's more, we need to be training younger workers to take their place as these baby boomers retire."

The federal Community-Based Job Training Grant will help HACC - leading a partnership of associations, workforce investment boards and other educational institutions - to help equip workers with the skills needed by local industries.

The grant is one of 72 awards to community college-led partnerships nationally. The partnerships - representing 34 states - will receive a total of $125 million in federal money over the next year, according to Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training Emily Stover DeRocco.

"These awards recall the imperative that businesses and the workforce system team up with their region's community colleges to ensure that workers are armed with the right skills to thrive in the 21st century economy," she said. "Community colleges are closely tied to the areas they serve and they have proven themselves adept at responding to the regional workforce demands of numerous industries."

HACC's partnership will focus on providing specialized skills training in industrial maintenance and mechatronics for more than a thousand incumbent workers in the region. In addition, participants will receive nationally recognized industry credentials as well as industry-specific equipment and web-based training systems.

HACC will be joined in the venture by Reading Area Community College, the Manufacturers' Association of South Central Pennsylvania - representing 350 member companies, Keystone Development Partnership, Berks Workforce Investment Board, Lancaster Workforce Investment Board, South Central Workforce Investment Board, William F. Goodling Regional Advanced Skills Learning Center and the Career Technology Center Manufacturing Consortium - which includes eight career and technical centers, workforce investment boards and post-secondary schools.

"We are very pleased at both the level of regional cooperation in this venture and in the Department of Labor's confidence in our ability to make a real difference in Central Pennsylvania," Baehre said.

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