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Roundtable to address education needs of industry

October 05, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Matching the skills businesses and industries need to the instructional programs that educational institutions can provide is the goal of a Business Education Roundtable next week at The Orchards Restaurant.

As of earlier this week, more than 50 businesses, schools and colleges had signed up for the roundtable, Franklin County Area Development Corp. President L. Michael Ross told the Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday. The meeting will run from 8 to 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 11.

"There is both a work force shortage ... and a skills gap, especially of entry-level employees," Ross told the commissioners. With the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania, Ross said employers face the problem of filling positions with qualified workers.

"Educators and educational institutions need to know what industry needs," Ross said.

Shippensburg University, Wilson College, the Penn State Mont Alto campus, Hagerstown Community College, Hagerstown Business College and the Gettysburg, Pa., campus of the Harrisburg Area Community College have registered for the meeting, Mont Alto Chancellor David Gnage said.

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The Chambersburg, Greencastle-Antrim, Shippensburg and Tuscarora school districts are sending representatives, along with Sylvan Learning Center, according to the list of registrants. Representatives from banking, health care, professional services, manufacturing and other businesses have also signed up to attend.

The meeting will help businesses know what kind of training and education programs are already available and inform educators about the programs needed to satisfy employers' demands, Gnage said.

For a single company, training one or two workers in specific skills can be costly, Gnage said. If 15 companies with 20 employees need the same training, however, economies of scale can be achieved, he said.

"This is not just designed to address vocational needs," Gnage said. Businesses also are looking for people with undergraduate, post-graduate and technical degrees, he said.

Ross and Gnage cited previous examples of how surveying industries resulted in developing training programs to meet employers' demands. One was a training program to help long-term health care facilities fill supervisory positions and another provided graduate courses in logistics for employees of the region's distribution and warehousing industry.

David Garraty, executive director of the South Central Workforce Investment Board, will address the meeting on initiatives undertaken by his group.

Ross said other businesses and educational institutions can register for the meeting by going to the development corporation's Web site, www.fcadc.com, clicking on "current events" and going to "news releases" in the drop down menu.

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