By Michelle Mikitish - Executive VP/Greater Pittston Chamber of Commerce
Scene from a recent Greater Pittston Chamber of Commerce Job Fair. - Submitted Photo
Michelle Mikitish - Submitted Photo
PITTSTON — Over the last decade, our region experienced the aging of our workforce and a decrease in our population, yet more and more businesses are choosing to expand into NEPA. These factors combine to create a challenging situation – Will we have enough employees to fill future positions?
With a slightly different approach to career readiness, I think the answer is “yes.”.
Instead of insisting our children “Go to College”, we instead must impart the importance of “Continuing Your Education”. Learning is a lifetime obligation which doesn’t require, nor is it limited to, 4 years of college. Talking with our children early and often about the many options available to them after high school and the vast number of career opportunities in our region is critical to helping them choose a satisfying career path as well as keeping our future workforce close to home.
At the Greater Pittston Chamber of Commerce, we are committed to helping the students of today, who are our workforce of tomorrow, better understand the career opportunities available right here in our own backyard.
By working with great partners like PA CareerLink of Luzerne County, the Luzerne Schuylkill Workforce Investment Board, Luzerne County Community College, Misericordia University, Mericle Commercial Real Estate Services and our local school districts including the career technical centers, we are building a bridge between students and employers. Our joint Career Exploration Days and Job Fairs have reached over 5000 students from 6 different schools and introduced them to pathways that can lead to fulfilling careers in healthcare, manufacturing, food processing, construction and so much more.
Many of our members support Pittston Area School District and their YES Program. The YES (Your Employability Skills) Northeast certificate program is administered by the Northeast PA Manufacturers & Employers Council. This is a year long elective course targeted at high school seniors to help students develop the soft skills necessary to succeed both on and off the job. The program includes resume building, mock interviews, presentations from local business professionals and several site tours of local employers. Many of the businesses that support the YES program also offer preferred interviews to program certificate holders.
As the cost of higher education continues to rise, many students are looking for ways to minimize the financial burden of a post-secondary education as well as secure a meaningful job in their field of study. In addition, employers are looking for highly skilled employees who are stable and reliable.
Apprenticeships provide a pathway to career development that minimizes the financial investment for students and ensures employers get the skilled employees they need. Apprenticeships are a flexible job training strategy that benefits both employers and employees and can be customized to meet the needs of any business.
The Greater Pittston Chamber is in the process of developing a Group Sponsored Registered Apprenticeship – Innovations in Management. This program will help the apprentice develop the skills necessary to manage a team of people and can be applied to management positions in any industry. The 16-credit classroom curriculum will be based on teaching apprentices how to communicate effectively
within an organization; How to understand the psychology of the workplace; How to set, measure and review team goals and expectations plus so much more.
Employers who engage in the Innovations in Management Apprenticeship develop an on-the-job training process tailored to the specific needs of the organization. At the completion of the program, the apprentice is fully trained to take on the responsibilities of the managerial position and the employer has an employee who understands the needs and processes of the organization.
It is human nature to continue to share the same old story in the absence of a new one. For NEPA, it is now time for a new story, a story of growth and revitalization. This is no longer the economically battered, depressed area people believe it to be. Wages are growing, clean, safe work environments are the norm and employers recognize the benefits of establishing a presence in our region. We have a strong “eds and meds” economy plus a manufacturing sector that fluctuates between the 2nd and 3rd largest employment base in the country. Good things are happening in Northeastern Pennsylvania and our future workforce can count on it.
The Greater Pittston Chamber of Commerce engages about 425 members and serves the Greater Pittston Area which includes 13 different municipalities and two school districts, Pittston Area and Wyoming Area. These municipalities cover approximately 64 square miles and have a combined population of just under 50,000 people.
The Greater Pittston Chamber of Commerce was incorporated on June 26, 1920 and will soon be celebrating 100 years of service to the Greater Pittston Business Community.