New funding to train more Lancaster County adults for in-demand jobs that don’t require a college degree was announced Thursday by Gov. Tom Wolf at the Mount Joy campus of the Lancaster County Career and Technology Center. Lancaster.
With a $94,000 grant to Project SPARK, the Career and Technology Center plans to recruit and train 150 people to help rebuild the skilled workforce in Lancaster County. The funding is part of Pennsylvania’s Manufacturing PA Training-to-Career program, which channels state money to trade and technical schools for equipment purchases, marketing, professional services and more.
Wolf toured several manufacturing classrooms and learned about the manufacturing program teacher curriculum while touring the Mount Joy Township Career and Technology Center campus, 432 Old Market St.
“Providing a strong talent pipeline to the manufacturing industry is critical to its continued success in Pennsylvania,” Wolf said. “The Commonwealth has enjoyed great success through programs such as Project SPARK, operated by the Lancaster County Career and Technology Center, and the Wolf administration remains committed to continuing to invest in these important programs.”
The SPARK project began in 2019 to train 2018-2019 high school graduates who had not declared a major or planned to finish high school unemployed. That year, the project was funded with $92,000 through the state’s manufacturing grant program. This year’s funding allows the Career and Technology Center to expand the program beyond young workers to unemployed adults and newly hired employees who lack essential skills.
This year’s grant comes at a time of high demand for vocational and technical education in Pennsylvania.
Since 2015, the number of students at schools like the Pennsylvania Career and Technology Center earning industry-recognized degrees has increased nearly 39%, according to the state Department of Education. Nearly 200 Lancaster County high school students are currently on waiting lists for Career and Technology Center programs, but that number is down to two, according to Ileen Smith, communications and marketing coordinator for the Career and Technology Center. times some students because it includes the first and second choice waiting list of students. designations.
Wolf said the way the state can help meet that demand in Lancaster County is through funding, particularly because, as he noted, teachers and career center staff and of technology “know what they are doing”.
“I think we have a state-level responsibility to fund education,” Wolf said. “And that’s part and parcel of the education process. We have to make sure the kids know how to do math and communicate and read and write all those kinds of things, but we also have to make sure the kids know how to operate these machines.
Wolf launched the Manufacturing PA Initiative in October 2017 and has since funded 80 projects and invested more than $17.1 million through the manufacturing grant program.
Manufacturing is in our DNA,” Wolf said of Pennsylvania, but added that the state cannot rely on manufacturing skills to come naturally. “We have a great manufacturing, a great manufacturing workforce here. We have to cultivate it. We need to make sure that we educate, providing learning opportunities.
And providing opportunities to learn manufacturing is something well done at the Lancaster County Career and Technology Center, Wolf said.
Over the past year, the Career and Technology Center has added new classrooms to meet growing demand in its Welding and Healthcare programs. The Willow Street Campus at 1730 Hans Herr Drive in West Lampeter Township recently added a new hall for 48 Welding Technology students. And, in the 2021-22 school year, the Career and Technology Center repurposed former cosmetology classrooms on the Willow Street campus to accommodate physician assistant classes, increasing that program’s capacity. from 50 to 100 seats. The cosmetology program ended in the 2018-19 school year.