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Pa. partnership matches firms with educators

December 03, 1996

By STEVEN T. DENNIS

Staff Writer, Waynesboro

SHADY GROVE, Pa. - A new partnership between more than 40 businesses and educational institutions to train workers received its first test a few weeks ago at Grove Worldwide, where 50 workers received basic training in electronics.

The Partnership for Advanced Technical Training, known as PAT2 or "PAT- squared," was formed after the Chambersburg 2000 report outlined a need to add to the region's base of technical knowledge.

"That was a wake-up call," said Edward J. Paterline III, Grove director of training and organizational development. Paterline said the issue wasn't that companies were unhappy with the area's work force. "If we weren't happy with the work force in this area we could build cranes somewhere else. This is about staying happy with the work force. We want to stay competitive. It's all about how do we build on the great thing we've got here."

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Grove workers who participated in the 12 hours of training learned everything from Ohm's Law to how to read electronics schematics and the difference between serial and parallel circuits.

Line workers who understand how the parts they're putting together work in the overall scheme of things are better motivated and can be better at troubleshooting, Paterline said.

Paterline said the company was happy with the training sessions and said many workers wanted to continue.

But electronics is just the tip of the iceberg for PAT2, said chief coordinator James E. Piatt. Classes in welding, forklift operation, hydraulics, refrigeration, machinist skills, drafting, physics and a laundry list of other skills are in the planning stages.

PAT2 received a $28,500 Ben Franklin grant to develop its training programs, but most of the costs of training will be borne by the businesses, Piatt said. Businesses will pay for membership in the group and for the training. PAT2 will contract with the educational institutions to provide instructors for the classes.

"The real thing that's unique is the thing is industry-driven," Paterline said. "It's not a prepackaged college degree program that you have to jump through hoops for." Businesses won't be spending money on programs that won't help performance.

Educational partners include Penn State Mont Alto, Wilson College, Penn College of Technology, and the Franklin County Vo-Tech School. Many of the area's major businesses, such as Frick, Ingersoll Rand, Landis Tool, Beck Manufacturing, D.L. Martin, Hennessy Products and others, have signed on, Piatt said.

The current training plans are a stepping stone to more educational opportunities down the road, Paterline said.

The partnership plans to offer certificate programs down the road for different skills, eventually leading to the development of associate degree programs at the local colleges, Piatt said. Piatt said workers might be able to get college credit for the different training programs they enroll in through PAT2.

Unemployed workers will also have opportunities once the program is in full swing, Piatt said. Some government money is available for training, he said. Classes would be open to the public, but member companies would get first dibs on open seats.

Piatt, a West Penn Power Co. retiree, works out of his home. "We put our money in training, not in offices."

  • Piatt's E-mail address is jxp42@psu.edu and his phone number is 1-717-762-9339.
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