Greensburg, PA – Following Governor Tom Wolf’s announcement this morning that more than $2.6 million in Business-Education Partnership (BEP) grants were awarded to 22 Local Workforce Development Boards (LWDBs) across Pennsylvania, Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) Secretary Jerry Oleksiak visited Westmoreland County to highlight one of the grant award recipients.
Oleksiak toured Hempfield Area High School in Greensburg to meet some of the students who will benefit from the $127,050 BEP grant award. BEP grants connect businesses and school districts across Pennsylvania to raise awareness of in-demand technical careers for students, parents, and teachers, and create new career opportunities.
“Last year, nearly 9,000 young people throughout the commonwealth participated in Business-Education Partnership activities,” Oleksiak said. “These opportunities support employer needs by educating our future workforce about the job opportunities that exist throughout Pennsylvania in STEM and technical careers, and firmly places students on a path to future career success.”
During his visit, Secretary Oleksiak spoke with students and instructors in STEM-literacy courses including engineering design and graphics technology.
The Westmoreland/Fayette Workforce Investment Board will use the grant funds to further develop a pilot STEM and computer education program that will serve more than 600 K-12 students in Fayette and Westmoreland counties.
Beginning in the summer of 2019, the BEP funds will be used to support a web-based portal that local companies can use to post information about internships, mentoring or job shadowing opportunities for students. In addition, Fayette County middle school students will participate in interactive sessions where they will learn to build robots.
“We are excited to be a part of this grant opportunity as we recognize the value and critical need for partnerships, such as the Westmoreland County Forum for Workforce Development,” said Dr. Tammy S. Wolicki, superintendent, Hempfield Area School District. “Such collaboration is necessary for us to prepare our staff and students to meet the demands of a highly qualified workforce that meets the needs of the community.”
The BEP grant funding is made available through L&I to LWDBs; regional entities whose main role is to direct federal, state, and local funding to workforce development programs in their areas and oversee the PA CareerLink® locations. Members of the LWDBs are appointed by a local elected official.
“The BEP grant will address the talent skills gap of Westmoreland and Fayette county businesses by providing students with work-based learning experiences,” said William Thompson, executive director, Westmoreland/Fayette Workforce Investment Board.
The BEP grant funding to encourage job training opportunities is in addition to Governor Wolf’s recently announced $30 million PAsmart initiative. PAsmart grants will encourage partnerships with private industry throughout Pennsylvania with on-the-job training and to support science and technology education in fast growing careers.
The BEP grants are 100 percent federally funded through federal money made available from the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act.
For more information about pursuing an education and career in Pennsylvania at any stage of life, visit PAsmart.
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