Gov. Tom Wolf address the crowd during a Collobrative Workforce Initiative announcement at K. Leory Irvis Science Center at CCAC. Also pictured (from left to right) CCAC Chair Frerick Thieman, Allegheny County executive Rich Fitzgerald and CCAC President, Quintin B. Bullock
New CCAC Workforce Training Center aims to build stronger vocational skill presence in Southwestern PA.
By: Neil Strebig
Gov. Tom Wolf visited the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) this afternoon to speak on behalf of the Collaborative Workforce Initiative agreement between the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and CCAC.
The Collaborative Workforce Initiative aims to build a new workforce training center on community college’s Allegheny campus. The building will offer space for a number of programs including: Culinary arts, cybersecurity, EMT, nursing, addictive manufacturing and autonomous, digital, process and plastic technologies. The goal of the project is to offer students state-of-the-art facilities to help eradicate the current skill gap.
Gov. Wolf referred to the joint project as “an investment in the future” as it seeks to create 21st-century jobs for both Allegheny County and the state. Gov. Wolf acknowledged that currently there are 30,000 available jobs in the county, but employers are finding it difficult to fill the vacant positions due to a lack of necessary skill sets.
“We need to figure out how to prepare students for new jobs,” he said.
The project will cost $20 million in total and will be a $10 million split between CCAC and the state. The Department of Education will help cover half of the 20-year bond’s cost. According to the Governor, it is the largest such educational investment under his tenure to date.
CCAC President, Quintin B Bullock acknowledged that this project will likely not break ground until 2018 and stated that internal and external communication will be happening between the university, potential employers, and state officials. The initial construction of the training center is considered Phase 1 of the joint project.
“For fifty years CCAC has been focused on workforce development,” Bullock said.“Our plans will enable CCAC to maximize our potential in developing new and future workforce talent to benefit the region’s growing economy.”
Bullock stressed the fact that the academic institution has seen a 7.1 percent increase in enrollment over the last five years within their STEM programs (STEM fields include engineering, mathematics, computer and natural sciences).
In addition, the college’s medical and nursing programs have seen 98 percent of graduates pass entry-level exams and obtain jobs within the first year after graduation (7 percent higher than the national average). Bullock believes the new workforce initiative is a beacon of potential success for future CCAC students.
Gov. Wolf and Bullock were joined on stage by Allegheny County executive, Rich Fitzgerald and CCAC Board of Trustees, Chair, Frederick Thieman. All four agreed that this new program is integral to the state economy and jumpstarting the professional workforce here in Southwestern Pennsylvania.
“This collaboration of faculty and students is tremendous,” Fitzgerald said, “It is very significant in improving lives here in Allegheny County.”
The proposed site will be constructed on existing CCAC-owned property (exact development details are still being discussed). According to Thieman, the CCAC Board of Trustees will officially hold a vote this Thursday, Sept. 7 to formally approve the plan.