All posts tagged education

Chamber Education Committee Update – November 2019


Local businesses continue to express finding employees is one of their biggest barriers. Population decline, skills deficits, and failed drug tests are often listed as reasons enough prospective employees are lacking, but you may be surprised to learn that lack of knowledge about available jobs may be the largest contributor to the shortage of qualified applicants.

There are those who are simply unaware of the number of open positions, that span from entry level to high skills trades and professional careers. Then there are those who assume that they are not a good match for the available jobs, because of a mismatch in the skills possessed and the advertised job description/requirements.

Unfortunately, it has become common to hear that many people do not have a familiarity with our local businesses, what they do, and what job opportunities they have available. There appears to be many opportunities to bridge gaps between communities.

Long gone are the days when multi generations of family members worked for the same businesses, passing along information about a business’s  products, services, and culture of the company, typically accompanied by a special kind of pride.

Most recently, 10th grade students from Oil City High School visited several local businesses including Klapec Trucking, Webco, Millcraft, Pepro, and USA Choice. Oil City High School Principal Scott Stahl remarks: “These tours were very valuable for students, but just as impactful to the teachers who had the chance to chaperone the tours.” To include all high school teachers and 12th grade students, Scott has planned for presentations throughout the school year, with business leaders addressing teacher and student groups. Chamber President Susan Williams has been assisting in making introductions between educators and businesses.

Local school districts Valley Grove, Cranberry, and Titusville invite business representatives to assist them in providing seniors with realistic mock interviews, after thorough preparation in preparing a resume, application, and cover letter. Several Chamber members and staff have or will participate as volunteers and report that the students are remarkably prepared for a job search.

Businesses who are interested in participating in career readiness programs can contact the Chamber to be identified for future presentations and volunteer opportunities.

Additionally, businesses can continue to submit their information to be included in the Job Shadow Resource Guide and to have Job Posters created for use by the schools, by visiting  venangochamber.org/education-committee-2019.

This article was published in the Venango Chamber’s November 2019 VenangoWorks! Newsletter.

Clarion University is Headed “True North”


TNI Task Force developed six priorities, the basis for an action plan the university will follow over the next three years:

• Student success

• Academic programming

• Affordability

• Student engagement/citizenship

• Clarion brand and promise

• Venango campus

The first item with action taken was the relaunch of the School of Education. Pehrsson made the announcement in April, appointing Dr. Gwyneth Price as dean to oversee the school’s budget and curriculum, and make scheduling and personnel decisions.

“I see us broadening our horizons in terms of keeping the kernels of solid, evidence based teacher preparation, then expanding that to embrace innovation,” Price said. “We have confidence that what we’ve been teaching historically has been the right thing, but we also have confidence that our faculty engage in research and continually update what they’re doing. We have been on the forefront of developing programming preparing graduates to be better teachers of all students.”

Clarion University is one of 17 universities in Pennsylvania with national accreditation, with 15 nationally recognized programs, and has one of six special education reading programs in the state with International Dyslexia accreditation.

Venango Campus

Venango is NWPA’s primary location for delivery of career and workforce education in healthcare, education, business, technology, and science. The personalized environment gives it potential to serve as an incubator for new programs, to partner and/or provide a collaborative training location for virtually all sectors of the economy, to provide training and professional development needs, and to facilitate and be part of regional economic growth.

The TNI directive for Venango Campus is to be a bustling academic and economic venture for the region, and Venango will establish a director whose sole purpose is to focus on the success of the campus.

The director will work with university deans to create unique academic opportunities that reflect a new model of two year or less programming: certificates, badging, licensure, and training programs which are stackable and flexible. Programming will be based on regional workforce needs and will continue to serve untapped and non traditional populations.

The School of Education has one of the first early childhood education programs in the state to implement a full year teacher residency, which begins this fall. Student teaching will be done the last year of the program, with coursework integrated into the experience. It is the only university in Pennsylvania authorized to offer Competent Learner Model courses for college credit, and Clarion led the development of and was the first school to offer the Skills for Teacher Leadership endorsement. Additionally, the innovative intervention specialist program boasts a 100% employment rate.

Venango Campus has a strong history of campus-community partnerships, with many focused on workforce development. New programming and partnerships are already underway:

• Individuals who have completed a registered apprenticeship program can receive credit toward Clarion’s Associate of Science in Applied Technology or Bachelor of Science in Technology Leadership.

• Non-credit courses on blueprint reading and geometric dimensioning and tolerancing are in development, part of continuing work with area employers to create needed training programs.

When Dr. Dale Elizabeth Pehrsson began her presidency at Clarion University in July 2018, one of her first actions was to assess the university. She convened the “True North Initiative (TNI) Task Force,” pulling together constituents across various divisions and departments to produce actionable goals.

• An Emergency Medical Technician program is offered in partnership with Venango Technology Center and Clarion Hospital.

• In partnership with Venango County Economic Development Authority and funded through a $300,000 Appalachian Regional Commission grant, an entrepreneurship academy for high school seniors will begin this fall.

• The university is administrator of a $1,100,000 grant from Appalachian Regional Commission to support apprenticeship programs with Venango Campus, Venango Technology Center, Community College of Allegheny County and Keystone Community Education Council.

• A partnership with Intermediate Unit V will help individuals prepare for the GED exam, improve basic entry-level skills, soft skills, etc., paving a pathway to education. The curriculum is being driven by business and industry needs.

A $900,000 investment in facility improvements, funded through grants and donations, is in progress at Venango Campus, including renovation of the respiratory care lab, Charles L. Suhr Library, and facility and technology upgrades. Venango Campus is focused on defining its own True North and will continue to be a vital part of Clarion University. Its increasingly important role as a community resource is evidenced through high quality programs, strength in serving returning adult and traditional/ non-traditional students, unique programs built on partnerships, and commitment to serving regional needs.

Learn more about Clarion University’s True North Initiative by visiting clarion.edu.

This article was published in the Venango Area Chamber of Commerce’s August 2019 VenangoWorks! Newsletter.

Leadership Venango Holds Sixth Session: Importance of an Educated Workforce


On Wednesday, February 13, the Venango Leadership Class met at Clarion University – Venango for the monthly class which focused on preparing a ready workforce, career and education alliances, 40 developmental assets and generational differences. The information presented was a mix of new ideas in addition themes formerly introduced during prior meetings.

Tammy Dulaney, Coordinator for Continuing Education at Clarion University, started the day with a deeper insight into the state higher education system (PASSHE) and their relationship with employers, students and career training opportunities. Notable points included the availability of state funds that will reimburse employers for their investment in training costs for their employees in addition to a list of state-approved apprenticeships that students can also utilize as credits toward a degree. Tammy is available to local businesses and students to help connect them to these resources!

Next up, Eileen Mullen, Program Coordinator for Crawford County K-12 Career Education Alliance, wowed the class with evidence of the growing partnerships between Crawford area businesses and School Districts to provide educational opportunities, career readiness experiences and much more for local students throughout each year. How can all this be accomplished with limited funds and staffing? Simply put, passion and effective communication techniques to garner support. This left the class clamoring for more and a keen interest on seeing something like this develop within Venango County.

Over lunch, Matt LaVerde, Asst. Exec. Director of IU5, focused his discussion on the importance of the 40 developmental assets that play a pivotal role in determining the overall success and general wellness of youth as they age into adulthood. There are many external factors to be mindful of as we all play a vital role in shaping the success (or not) of developing our youth. Judy Etzel, staff writer at The Derrick, and Heather Motter, Cranberry High School English Teacher, followed that conversation up by sharing their experience working together under the state-initiated Teacher in the Workforce program. This discussion reminded attendees of the importance of empathy, curiosity and shared knowledge that impact all of our lives.

Finally, Susan Hileman, Strategic Business Advisor for NWIRC NW Region, made a return visit to the class with a presentation on generational differences. This conversation focused on the preferred learning habits, general societal views and unique experiences within each generation. All of factors shape a person’s personality, attitude, work mindset and much more which needs to be considered when making decisions in the workplace.        

Leadership Venango will meet again on March 13th at Komatsu in Franklin. For more information visit leadershipvenango.org

This article was published in the Venango Area Chamber of Commerce’s March 2019 VenangoWorks! Newsletter.

Job Shadow Opportunities at Your Business


Picture1With the new school year beginning, students will return to a variety of programs aimed to prepare them for entering the workforce.  Many of our local school districts encourage or even require students to job shadow.

The Education Committee of the Venango Chamber is working to identify how we can assist businesses in being prepared for requests for students to spend time with them.  As with any learning experience, a job shadow will be most meaningful if both the student and the business have considered and agreed on the expectations for their time spent together.

We will be asking businesses to complete a short online form, if they are willing to host a student and provide specific information that a student will need to know before requesting to shadow.

Some businesses may have limitations on what areas they can allow students into, due to safety or confidentiality, but many can still provide a glimpse into why a student should consider a future in a specific line of work.

“Businesses throughout the county and across all industries have expressed they are struggling to find qualified and willing workers,” Chamber President Susan Williams shares.

“We believe the very best way to prepare students today for jobs tomorrow is to invite them into businesses, where they can observe the skills or education needed to pursue a vocation available here in Venango County. It is important for them to see where family and friends are employed and ideally exemplify pride in the work they do.”

If your business welcomes students, please complete our form at: www.venangochamber.org/job-shadow

This article was published in the Venango Area Chamber of Commerce’s September 2018 edition of the VenangoWorks! Newsletter.

BBCF Announces Second Annual Week of Giving


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Bridge Builders Community Foundations has announced the dates and deadlines for the 2018 Week of Giving and a new addition, Clicks for a Cause. The Week of Giving will take place March 19-23, and the deadline for nonprofits to sign up is January 15.

The Week of Giving is the largest regional philanthropic initiative to date, spurring collective charitable giving through the foundation. Nonprofits throughout Clarion, Forest and Venango counties, as well as the community of Punxsutawney, sign up online to become a participant, allowing community members to give numerous donations.

“Last year, we were able to give almost $104,000 from more than 300 donors to 88 local nonprofits and funds,” said Trenton Moulin, executive director of BBCF. “We’re looking forward to another Week of Giving and an opportunity to give even more back to the organizations making a difference in our community.”

Clicks for a Cause, taking place January 22-26, gives nonprofits another chance to raise funds and, as a Week of Givingparticipant of the Week of Giving, a nonprofit is automatically part of this addition. Clicks for a Cause is essentially a competition for nonprofits, allowing community members to click and vote for organizations by simply visiting the website from any device. The nonprofit with the most votes receives an additional $500 through the Week of Giving.

“The new addition of Clicks for a Cause to this year’s Week of Giving is yet another way to help us support our local nonprofits,” said Moulin. “This campaign isn’t just about getting money, it’s about educating people on our community’s needs and why it is essential to give.”

To participate in the Week of Giving and Clicks for a Cause, nonprofits must visit bbcfgives.org and register by Monday, January 15. Community members interested in voting and donating can visit the website for more information.

Please contact BBCF by phone at (814) 677-8687 or by email at trenton@bbcf.org with any questions.