School district steers kids toward Pennsylvania jobs in need

MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Major industries in Pennsylvania are finding themselves strapped for workers.

Those are specifically industries that don’t necessarily require a college degree.

Cumberland Valley School District is trying to get students to focus on those careers.

One of them is construction, which has been Dave Good’s life’s work.

“The rewards you see when you’re done with a project,” Good, who works for COR Construction Company in Cumberland County, said.

But it’s no secret the “blue collar” reputation has taken a hit in recent years.

“There’s less and less interest in younger people getting out of school, interested in the trades,” Good said. “We’re looking to hire new people and the skill level’s not available.”

That’s a work in progress in Cumberland County.

“Really trying to reconnect our secondary programs with the economy,” Cumberland Valley School District Superintendent Fred Withum said.

Cumberland Valley, business, college and county leaders have formed a committee to fill those voids.

“Health care, manufacturing, and the trades,” Withum said, “those are the areas we know that the employers can’t get enough workers.”

Following statewide trends, Cumberland County predicts in ten years there will be about 500 more manufacturing jobs available due to added growth. There will also be about 3,000 more nursing jobs, with Pennsylvania becoming the second-most popular state to retire after Florida.

“We just need to work to articulate them and help students understand the different pathways they can take, including some changes to our graduation requirements that allow students to get out and do more internships and co-ops,” Withum said.

The district has already started phasing in this plan for the future, while not forgetting what’s worked in the past.

“From day one, they’re getting paid to learn, instead of paying to learn,” Wood said.

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