College to Host Statewide Conference for 28 Pennsylvania Workforce Training Grant Partners
(Delaware and Chester Counties, PA • April 25, 2017)—Delaware County Community College will host training partners from across the state at the annual WEDnetPA conference, to be held at the College’s Marple Campus, April 26 through April 28. It is expected that 28 training providers and partners will gather to share best practices and strategize how to maximize state funds and the matching employer dollars utilized in the WEDnetPA program.
Since 1999, the Workforce and Economic Development Network of Pennsylvania (WEDnetPA) program has helped Pennsylvania employers strengthen their workforces by providing training for employees in skills needed for the advanced manufacturing, health care and information technology industries. The training is provided by the 28 WEDnetPA partner institutions, many of which are community colleges, which are then reimbursed by the Commonwealth.
Statewide, through WEDnetPA’s valuable business/higher education partnerships, more than $10 million in customized training was provided by the Commonwealth’s 14 community colleges in fiscal year 2015-2016 to more than 18,000 workers, according to the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges. And, since WEDnetPA’s inception, 18,000 companies and more than one million workers have benefited.
Locally, through WEDnetPA, nearly $450,000 in training was provided to more than 2,000 employees at companies in Delaware and Chester Counties in fiscal year 2015- 2016, according to a WEDnetPA 2016 Program Report.
“WEDnet has provided us the ability to maintain a skilled workforce and train in areas we may not have been able to otherwise,” said Susan Watras, director of Human Resources for Pennsylvania Machine Works, Inc., based in Aston in Delaware County, which has partnered with Delaware County Community College through WEDnetPA. “One of the many dilemmas small manufacturers face is the ability to attract people with the skill sets needed today to succeed in manufacturing. WEDnet has provided us the focus, the help and the resources to do that.”
“The (WEDnet) grant supplements the cost for an employee attending classes, including but not limited to: supervision, ISO 9001 and 14001, computer, communication, and lean culture training,” said Nancy Kelly, training and development manager for Oberthur Technologies of America Corporation, based in Exton in Chester County, another WEDnetPA partner of the College. “Most of our employees have at least a high school education and live in the surrounding communities. Receiving grant funds for our company is important, especially in this difficult economic time.”
“As a facility involved in the melting, rolling and heat treating of steel plate, our industry is under intense pressure from a variety of influences, i.e., imports, pricing, environmental policies, safety mandates, etc. Funding from WEDnet allows us to provide training our employees need,” said William Kane, training coordinator for Coatesville-based ArcelorMittal, another College WEDnetPA partner. “Without the funding, I feel our organization would cut back on the formal classes WEDnet covers and we would only rely on ‘tribal knowledge’ and on-the-job training. The WEDnet program gives us flexibility in deciding what is best for our employees and our company.”
WEDnetPA training can take place on-site at the employer’s workplace, at one of the WEDnetPA partner locations, or via computer online, making the program a flexible, convenient option for employers seeking to remain competitive in the region, nation and world. Some of the essential skills training WEDnetPA provides to employers includes training in computer operations, blue print reading, tooling, project management, grinding, welding and workplace health and safety. Some of the advanced technology training WEDnetPA provides includes advanced machine operations and maintenance, advanced manufacturing technology, computer programming, software engineering, systems analysis, website design and development, information security, and medical applications.
Currently, even though the Pennsylvania House of Representatives recently voted to eliminate funding for WEDnetPA from the state’s budget next year, employers and providers are urging the State Legislature and the Wolf administration to restore the WEDNetPA funds, distributed from the line item for Pennsylvania First, as they continue to consider the Commonwealth’s fiscal year 2017-18 budget.
“The training support we offer is relevant, flexible and always evolving, just like Pennsylvania’s ever-changing work environment,” said Thomas Venditti, WEDnetPA’s statewide director in WEDnetPA’s 2016-17 Funding Guide Training Brochure. “Well-prepared and educated workers thrive and make their employers more competitive and successful in the process.”