Keystone Central Career and Technology Center: PAsmart Grant to Build an Inclusive CNC Apprenticeship Ecosystem in Central PA

Posted on Categories Business, Community, Workforce Engagement, Engagement

At a Glance

The Central Pennsylvania Workforce Development Corporation (CPDWC) in partnership with the Central Pennsylvania Apprenticeship Consortium (CPAC) has developed an inclusive Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Apprenticeship Ecosystem in central Pennsylvania.  The consortium of local manufacturers, school districts, and career and technology centers will collaborate with CPDWC to develop a CNC Machinist pre-apprenticeship pathway for high school students from 19 districts in central Pennsylvania and strengthen and expand Keystone Central Career and Technology’s approved CNC registered apprenticeship.


In central Pennsylvania, the machine trades workforce is aging, and there is an imminent need to create a pipeline of qualified applicants to fill the expected openings in the workforce.  To address this challenge, a consortium of six CTE programs (Keystone Central Career and Technology Center, SUN Tech, Williamsport Area High School, Jersey Shore Area School District, Columbia-Montour Area Vocational Technical School, and Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology) formed an alliance to provide a diverse workforce for  the machining industry partners.  The consortium partnered with CPDWC and local businesses to apply for a PAsmart grant  to fund Pre-Apprenticeship and Registered Apprentices programs in the central Pennsylvania workforce.  The grant was awarded in March 2020.

In 2019, prior to the consortium receiving the PAsmart grant, Keystone Central Career and Technology Center (Keystone Central CTC) applied for and were recognized by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry to offer a CNC registered apprenticeship. During the PAsmart grant application process, six CTE schools created a consortium to develop CNC Machinist pre-apprenticeships for high school students that will directly feed the CNC Registered Apprenticeship. Kurt Lynch, Director of Career and Technical Education at Keystone Central CTC, points out the importance of linking the Pre-Apprenticeship to a Registered Apprenticeship so that a streamlined and sustainable pathway for students and businesses is created and sustained.

In 2021, the consortium of schools, CPDWC and local businesses collaborated to apply for the PAsmart grant. With the grant funding, Keystone Central CTC can expand the CNC registered apprenticeship program, and the high school pre-apprenticeship programs can be developed. The funds will cover the cost of the supplies and equipment schools will need to run the pre-apprenticeship programs. The partner businesses will offer co-op experiences to students in the pre-apprenticeship programs. Students who participate in the program will receive the education and training they need to begin a Registered Apprenticeship upon graduation.

The successful regional collaboration of education, business and workforce development stakeholders resulted in two positive outcomes for individuals, labor and industry and the community:  1) It created a pipeline to address the anticipated workforce shortage, and 2) It provides high school students a defined pathway to a career with good prospects for earnings and job opportunities.

The effort to build an inclusive CNC apprenticeship ecosystem in the central region was successful because of the collaboration between local businesses, education partners and the WDB. Each partner contributed resources and time to the effort and remained focus on the overarching goal of sustaining a well-qualified workforce.  They recognized the importance of developing new opportunities built around apprenticeships, which provide valuable experiences for students.  CPDWC helped to coordinate all the moving pieces during the development process and to acquire the funding.  It worked with a wide array of stakeholders including labor and industry to help build a pipeline of new workers to replace the aging workforce that is retiring.

The Director of Career and Technical Education at Keystone Central CTC, Kurt Lynch, expects the practice to continue whether it be through additional state funding or through CTE and business partnerships.  Keystone Central CTC and other partners hope to increase the business partnerships for this apprenticeship.


Because of the collaborative work among education partners, local businesses and the CPDWC, students now have a direct link to employment and further educational opportunities through the pre-apprenticeship. There is a developing pipeline of skilled workers to help address the challenges associated with an aging workforce.

* Although the grant was awarded in March 2020, the program was placed on hold due to Covid-19. Apprenticeship training originally was to begin at CTCs, but in July 2020 the training began at local industry partners because pandemic restrictions prevented it from taking place at CTCs. By fall 2020, this training was slowly brought back to the CTCs. As of spring 2021, the grant re-opened and pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship training is taking place.  Apprentices have completed one year of training, and the program has graduated pre-apprentices who have been hired by industry partners and will be placed in the apprenticeship program.


Keystone Central Career and Technology Center

Kurt Lynch, Director of Career and Technical Education