Harkins, Merski: $157,160 grant will allow students to explore career pathways in manufacturing, health care

HARRISBURG, Jan. 10 – Students from low-income families will have a chance to explore career pathways in the manufacturing and health care industries, thanks to a $157,160 grant to a local workforce development board, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today. 

The funding to the Students in the Workplace project will offer about 400 low-income middle and high school students a real-world look at jobs in manufacturing and health care through programs such as job shadowing and career tours.

“This grant is going to open doors for area students by bringing them into a real-world setting and letting them envision the possibilities,” Harkins said. “When it comes to career planning, there’s no better way to stimulate kids’ minds than to let them see and experience the real working world beyond the classroom.”

Merski agreed, noting, “As essential as classroom learning is, there’s no substitute for letting kids interact with employers and employees in the field. This grant is going to provide for experiences such as job shadowing, soft-skills training and career tours, which will allow students to determine what careers truly excite them and how their own skills match up with real-world opportunities.”

Harkins and Merski noted that in addition to providing students a real-world look at manufacturing and health care careers, the project aims to help area businesses and schools partner to target needs and career pathways for students; educate parents and guardians about career pathways in the state’s northwest region and about services such as CareerLink and adult education; and create a new career counselor position to be shared by various rural school districts in the region.

The grant is one of 22 Business-Education Partnership grants awarded to local workforce development boards. The BEP awards, which were 100-percent federally funded through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act, are designed to increase awareness of in-demand technical careers for students, parents, guardians, teachers and school faculty.