AT A GLANCE
With support from Westmoreland-Fayette Workforce Invest Board Partnership (WIB), Eastern Westmoreland Career and Technical Center (EWCTC) and Derry Area School District collaborated to develop the Career Pathway Program in order to provide students with career exploration that assists in identifying career interests and postsecondary planning. The program began in the 2013-14 school year with a focus on careers in manufacturing and is now expanding to include careers in healthcare.
RESULTS / IMPACT
Grant funding allowed for the hiring of a part-time (35 hours a week) dedicated career pathways coordinator at EWCTC who organizes and facilitates activities for both EWCTC and Derry Area High School students.
The Career Pathway Program has resulted in a stronger partnership between EWCTC and Derry Area High School (DAHS). Students at DAHS who do not attend manufacturing or healthcare programs at EWCTC now have opportunities to participate in relevant career exploration activities that otherwise were available only to EWCTC students.
During the 2016-17 school year, the approximate number of students participating in the program is as follows:
- Manufacturing Pathway – 75 EWCTC students and 25 DAHS students
- Healthcare Pathway – 50 EWCTC students
Since the program’s inception, approximately 20 business partners have been engaged to provide speakers, facilitate facility tours, and collaborate on curriculum.
WIOA guidelines require the career pathways coordinator to track qualifying students (qualifications provided at the end of this document) for one year after high school graduation in order to ascertain if they are continuing training, education, or employment in the pathway industry sector. Tracking is accomplished through monthly check-in phone calls.
The number of qualifying students required by the WIB for each year is as follows:
- 2015: 10 (manufacturing pathway only)
- 2016: 10 (manufacturing pathway only)
- 2017: 40 (manufacturing and healthcare pathways)
Focus on healthcare career pathways is recent and expected to expand. Presently, EWCTC students enrolled in the Health Occupation Technology Program have been given the opportunity to volunteer at Excela Health and have job shadowed at local nursing homes. Students have been exposed to many careers including certified nursing assistant, medical assistant, physical therapist, registered nurse, and licensed practical nurse among others.
ORIGIN / IMPLEMENTATION
In 2015, EWCTC received twenty thousand dollars in funding from the WIB to begin exploring how to better provide students – those attending EWCTC as well as those remaining at their sending school – with information, education, and experiences in the manufacturing sector. Administrators at Derry Area School District became involved in this collaboration and exploratory work began.
Recognizing the progress being made, the WIB utilized some of its WIOA funds to expand internship opportunities for high school students. A request for proposals was made available to regional school districts and career and technical centers. EWCTC applied for and received seventy five thousand dollars to utilize from January 2016 through June 2017. Funds have allowed for the hiring of a pathway coordinator at EWCTC to oversee the program; other expenses such as transportation and meals are also covered through grant monies. Derry Area School District, demonstrating the greatest engagement in this work, and EWCTC developed a Manufacturing Pathways Program to address a regional workforce need by educating interested high school students about promising career opportunities.
Derry Area High School students who are enrolled in a manufacturing-related elective course, such as Computer Aided Design (CAD) or engineering and students enrolled in relevant programs of study at EWCTC, such as mechatronics or welding technology, are provided with experiences such as the following:
- Presentations by guests speakers representing regional businesses and postsecondary institutions
- Business and industry tours
- Work-based job shadowing
- Work-based internship
- Class lessons relating to soft skills, communications, professionalism, employability documents, and more
- Personal career planning
- Mock interviews
- Registration in the Job Gateways system
EWCTC is required by the state to operate an advisory committee for each of its programs. As a result, staff members have established ongoing relationship with members of business and industry. Derry Area School District does not have this requirement and, therefore, has fewer partnerships with whom to organize students’ work-based learning experiences. For this reason, the pathway coordinator, employed at EWCTC, plays a pivotal role in connecting employers with all students, not only those enrolled at EWCTC.
NEXT STEPS / GOALS
Pending continue funding, the Career Pathways Program is expected to further develop and expand. For example, with a noticeably high demand for healthcare professionals in western Pennsylvania, it is imperative that EWCTC and the WIB work collaboratively to expand awareness and preparation for young adults interested in these careers.
Eastern Westmoreland Career and Technology Center
Todd Weimer, Administrative Director
Jesse Somers, Career Pathways Coordinator
Westmoreland-Fayette Workforce Investment Board
William J. Thompson
Derry Area School District
Cheryl Walters, Superintendent
As stated in a document provided by the Westmoreland-Fayette Workforce Investment Board (dated 2016-2017), WIOA eligibility for in-school youth (age 14 to 21) includes the following:
Meets General Eligibility because they can provide a verification source for the following categories:
- Citizenship or Eligible to Work
- Selective Service Registrant (Males aged 18+)
- Age (14-24 for In-School programs) at time of enrollment
- Attending Any School (as defined under State Law)
Meets the income guidelines and has documentation proving they are Low-Income due to:
- Cash Public Assistance
- Family Income at or below the Poverty Line or 70% of the Lower Living Standard Income Level (LLSIL)
- Receives Food Stamps or was determined eligible to receive in the last six month
- Eligible for Free Reduced Lunch under Russell National School Lunch Act
- Publicly supported Foster Child
- Individual who is pregnant/parenting or has a disability and own income at or below Poverty Line of 70% of the LLSIL
- Basic Skills Deficient
- An English Language Learner
- An offender
- A homeless youth or a runaway, in foster care or has aged out of the foster care system
- Pregnant or parenting
- A youth who is an individual with a disability
- An individual who requires additional assistance to complete an educational program or to secure or hold employment
All eligibility must be determined by staff at PA CareerLink Westmoreland, PA CareerLink Fayette, or the PA CareerLink Alle Kiski.
Candidates for participation are not eligible until the employment specialist provides a letter of eligibility.