LA PLUME — Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) Deputy Secretary for Workforce Development Eileen Cipriani visited Keystone College Monday to announce the institution was awarded a $60,000 PAsmart grant to support a Pre-Apprenticeship Program for early childhood education.
Governor Tom Wolf launched PAsmart last year to bolster STEM education, apprenticeships and job training.
“In last year’s budget, the legislature passed and the governor signed a $30 million initiative called PAsmart,” Cipriani said. “The initiative was for $20 million for STEM education, $7 million for apprenticeships and $3 million for next generation sector partnerships. This year, the governor has renewed that ask, but now he’s asking for additional funding for adult education around Career Technology Centers and manufacturing training for an additional $10 million.”
Per Cipriani, the program is geared toward students coming out of high school or out-of-school youths, ages 16-24.
“It’s a career pathway for individuals who enter into early childhood education to go on to get their bachelor’s degree,” she said.
According to Dr. Fran Langan, Keystone College Dean of the School of Professional Development, the college is partnering with Lackawanna Trail High School along with Luzerne County Community College and Wilkes University, locally.
“Lackawanna Trail district personnel will work with students relative to what their intent is in terms of a career,” Langan said. “This program allows individuals to earn college credit and the national Child Development Associate Credential while they are still in high school. “When they graduate, they can immediately be qualified for an entry-level position in an early childhood program.”
Lackawanna Trail Director of Special Education Amie Talarico, who also serves as an adjunct instructor in Early Childhood Education at Keystone, believes the 12-credit program will be a valuable tool for the district’s students.
“We’re working with our transition coordinator and guidance counselor to identify students and (early childhood education) was an area that wasn’t covered by our Career Technology Center, so we identified it as an area of need for some of our students.”
Lackawanna Trail High School Principal Dr. Mark Murphy also feels the school’s students, who will work with pre-school aged children in Keystone’s Oppenheim Family Children’s Center, will benefit greatly from the program.
“It will be pre-employment training for our 11th and 12th graders, as they go out looking for part-time jobs and even summer internships,” Murphy said. “They’re going to be providing the students training that’s going to allow our them to have an advantage over those who might not have those skills.”
Keystone College President Dr. Tracy Brundage is hopeful the pre-apprenticeship program will encourage more local individuals to stay in the area after high school and college.
”It helps to build capacity for the region and it also helps to build economic development so a lot of folks can choose to stay and work locally in Northeastern Pennsylvania,” she said.
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.