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Local Schools, CBICC Launch CentreREADY Workforce Preparedness Initiative

by on September 14, 2018 5:00 AM

Local school leaders and the Chamber of Business & Industry of Centre County (CBICC) this week launchd a new, collaborative initiative to help build a stronger local workforce.

CentreREADY is designed to address the core and technical skills gap among the workforce -- an issue faced by employers Centre County and nationwide. CBICC's Business and Industry Partnership Committee found those skills were often cited by employers as lacking in the local workforce.

CBICC President Vern Squier said his organization knew that working with local educational institutions would be critical. The five county school districts (Bald Eagle, Bellefonte, Penns Valley, Philipsburg-Osceola and State College) as well as the two caeer and technical institutions -- Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology and South Hills School of Business & Technology -- worked with CBICC over several months to develop the scope of the initiative.

“The CBICC was resolved to respond to the workforce needs of employers here, to find ways in which the community could begin to address the issue,” Squier said in a news release.

Leaders from each institution signed a memorandum of understanding on Wednesday pledging that as they implement CentreREADY they will offer 21st century workforce skills experiences as part of their curriculum offerings, with a focus on six core attributes: work ethic, tactfulness/manners, team work, communication, critical thinking/problem solving and understanding supervision and the world of work. 

Each institution will have its own way of assessing proficiency, Squier said, but it is the CentreREADY designation and what it stands for that will resonate with local employers.

Students who sign up for and earn the CentreREADY certification will have a kind of "seal of approval" in the local business community.

"When Centre County employers see the CentreREADY designation on job applications or resumes, they will know that the applicant possesses an understanding of and proficiency in the core attributes that businesses find essential in employees," according to CBICC.

Squier said that for CBICC and its community partners, promoting the value of CentreREADY and participation is a top priority. So far, the response has been positive.

“Local businesses have embraced CentreREADY,” Squier said. “The concern over having the workforce needed to grow and expand, and to remain competitive, is top of mind for many employers. They are receptive to efforts at the national, state and local level to address workforce readiness and close the skills gap because it ultimately matters to their bottom line and survival.”

A number of local businesses and nonprofits have already signed on as supporters, and PA CareerLink Centre County and the Private Industry Council of the Central Corridor also are partners in the initiative.



Geoff Rushton is managing editor for StateCollege.com. Contact him at geoff.rushton@statecollege.com or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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