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Franklin Co. career center learning area a combined effort

April 24, 2007|by JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. The ribbon cut Monday at the Franklin County Career and Technology Center officially opened a 2,300-square-foot space where Penn State Mont Alto will host classes for people already working in their fields.

Classes include those to re-certify Realtors and automobile inspectors. The shop area will host electrical and welding classes, officials said.

The chancellor of Penn State Mont Alto paused for a moment while thinking about the relationship between his school, the county career center and the county development corporation.

That partnership - which he says will enhance 40 work force development courses - is unlike any other in the state, Chancellor David C. Gnage said.

"It became clear that working together we could do more. There has to be a synergy," Gnage said.

In 2002, the Franklin County Area Development Corp. conducted a "gap study" to survey employers about what training they felt workers lacked. The partners then held online studies and focus groups, talking to everyone in the county who employed more than 20 people.

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Instead of the traditional focus on the 5 percent of people unemployed or transitioning between jobs, the spotlight was on current employees, said Bob Garrity, executive director of the Pennsylvania Workforce Investment Board and former director of the southcentral region's board.

Twenty percent of Penn State Mont Alto's 1,032 students are 24 years old or older, Gnage said.

Using a $60,000 state grant and an additional $20,000, high school students at the Franklin County Career and Technology Center did much of the renovation work themselves. The group of 50 installed electricity, plumbing, drop ceilings, drywall and doors.

"We very seldom get a live experience like this on site," said Jim Duffey, director of the career center.

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