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L&I Tours Eastern Center for Arts and Technology, Details Governor’s Bold STEM and Job Training Programs

Willow Grove, PA – Department of Labor & Industry Secretary Jerry Oleksiak today toured Eastern Center for Arts and Technology (EASTERN). Oleksiak highlighted Governor Tom Wolf's proposed Statewide Workforce, Education, and Accountability Program (SWEAP), a bold workforce development plan to invest in Pennsylvanians from birth to retirement, and expanding job skills training for students and adults.

"Employers need workers with the training and skills ready to do the job," said Oleksiak. "Not everyone wants a four-year degree, but many people need skills that schools like EASTERN provide. We need to develop these skills across the commonwealth as much as possible to help strengthen our workforce and economy."

Oleksiak toured some of EASTERN's job training programs, including the Practical Nursing, Welding Technology, Protective Services, and Collision Repair Technology labs. Oleksiak spoke to some of the school's adult students during his visit to the practical nursing program, which is approved by the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing and accredited by the Middle States Commission of Secondary Schools. Graduates from that program are eligible to sit for the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCLEX) PN Licensing examination.

Oleksiak said the governor's SWEAP plan builds on last year's successful launch of PAsmart to create a more qualified and highly-skilled workforce. The proposed PAsmart funding includes:

  • $20 million to expand computer science and STEM education;
  • $7 million to expand registered apprenticeships;
  • $3 million to expand job training through Next Generation Industry Partnerships;
  • $6 million to expand adult career and technical education programs; and
  • $4 million to expand Manufacturing to Career Training Grants.

Other SWEAP components would enable more children to attend high-quality child care; ensure kids are in school age 6 and stay until age 18; modernize the minimum teacher salary to help address a teacher shortage; expand opportunities for teachers to visit local employers and bring the experience back to the classroom, and increase job training for low-income parents.

The governor also recently created the Keystone Economic Development and Workforce Command Center. The partnership between state government and private sector leaders will identify and address the barriers to work, skills gaps, and worker shortages in Pennsylvania.

"We are so pleased to have Secretary Oleksiak tour our school and meet our instructors and students," said Dr. Cathleen Plesnarski, EASTERN's Executive Director.  "As the school year wraps up, this is a great time to see the outstanding skills and professionalism that our students possess and have worked diligently to attain throughout their time at EASTERN.  We believe in providing our students with a well-rounded education that focuses on enhancing their technical skills with academic foundations and professional attributes.  We provide clear career pathways to help them achieve their goals.  We are very proud of our school, students, and staff and are honored to have the opportunity to share our pride with Secretary Oleksiak."

EASTERN offers high-quality continuously evaluated and updated technical instruction, leadership opportunities and specialized services. Their programs respond to the needs of students and business and industry to provide an environment where students can make career decisions, acquire competitive skills and prepare themselves for success in higher education.

For more information about pursuing an education and career in Pennsylvania at any stage of life, visit PAsmart.

MEDIA CONTACTS: Penny Ickes or Lindsay Bracale, 717-787-7530 or

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