MILL HALL – Central Pennsylvania Workforce Development Corporation (CPDWC) has partnered with the Central Pennsylvania Apprenticeship Consortium (CPAC) to develop a comprehensive Computer Numerical Control (CNC) apprenticeship ecosystem in Central Pennsylvania.
The consortium of local manufacturers, school districts, and career and technology centers will work with CPDWC to develop a pre-college CNC machinist course for high school students from 19 districts in central Pennsylvania and strengthen the Keystone Central Career and Technology Center’s recognized CNC registration and expand training.
In central Pennsylvania, the machinery trade workforce is aging and there is an urgent need to develop a pipeline of qualified applicants to fill the anticipated workforce positions. To meet this challenge, a consortium of six CTE programs (Keystone Central Career and Technology Center, SUN Tech, Williamsport Area High School, Jersey Shore Area School District, Columbia-Montour Area Vocational Technical School, and Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology) formed an alliance to offer partners in the machining industry a diverse workforce. The consortium has partnered with the CPDWC and local businesses to apply for a PAsmart grant to fund pre-education and enrolled apprentice programs in the workforce in central Pennsylvania. The scholarship was awarded in March 2020.
In 2019, before the consortium received the PAsmart grant, the Keystone Central Career and Technology Center (Keystone Central CTC) applied for CNC-registered training and was recognized by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. During the PAsmart grant application process, six CTE schools formed a consortium to develop advanced training to become CNC machine mechanics for high school students, which will flow directly into the CNC-registered training. Kurt Lynch, Director of Career and Technical Education at Keystone Central CTC, points out the importance of linking pre-education with registered education in order to create and maintain a lean and sustainable pathway for students and businesses.
In 2021, the consortium of schools, CPDWC and local companies applied together for the PAsmart scholarship. The grant funding will allow Keystone Central CTC to expand its CNC-registered apprenticeship program and develop the pre-apprenticeship programs for high schools. The funds will cover the cost of the materials and equipment the schools need to run the training programs. The partner companies offer the students cooperation experience in the pre-teaching programs. Students participating in the program will, upon graduation, receive the education and training they need to begin registered training.
The successful regional collaboration of actors from education, business and human resource development has led to two positive outcomes for individuals, workers and industry as well as the community: 1) a pipeline has been created to address the expected labor shortage, and 2) it provides High school students have a defined career entry point with good earnings and career opportunities.
The efforts to build an integrative CNC apprenticeship ecosystem in the central region were successful due to the cooperation between local companies, educational partners and the Workforce Development Board (WDB). Each partner contributed resources and time to the effort while remaining focused on the overall goal of maintaining a well-qualified workforce. They realized the importance of developing new apprenticeship opportunities that provide students with valuable experience. CPDWC helped coordinate all moving parts during the development process and acquire funding. It worked with a wide range of stakeholders, including labor and industry, to help build a pipeline of new workers to replace the aging workforce that is retiring.
Lynch expects the practice to continue, whether through additional government funding or through CTE and business partnerships. Keystone Central CTC and other partners hope to strengthen business partnerships for this training.
(Although the scholarship was awarded in March 2020, the program was suspended due to COVID-19. Originally, training was supposed to begin at CTCs, but training began with local industry partners in July 2020 as pandemic restrictions prevented this from happening at the CTCs. By autumn In 2020, this training was slowly brought back to the CTCs. From spring 2021, the scholarship will reopen and pre-apprenticeship training will take place. The apprentices have completed a year of training and the program has completed pre-apprenticeships that have been taken on by industrial partners and in apprenticeships are started.)