NEW HOLLAND, PA – Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) Secretary Pedro A. Rivera recently joined community leaders, industry partners, and educational professionals from the Lancaster STEM Alliance in a panel discussion about Governor Tom Wolf’s PASmart initiative and the importance of STEM education.
“Pennsylvania is the fifth largest producer of STEM graduates,” said Secretary Rivera. “We need to continue that great work by ensuring our teachers and educational professionals are prepared and supported to give our students equitable access to high-quality education.”
Hosted by the Lancaster STEM Alliance and CNH Industrial, the VIP Summer Externship Sampler provided 60 education professionals an opportunity to immerse and develop their skill sets in STEM-related teaching materials and prospects.
During the panel discussion, Secretary Rivera noted not only the importance of increasing professional development opportunities for teachers but also connecting them to industry partners to expand STEM-related workforce opportunities.
“Externships like this provide opportunities to link education and industry so students are exposed to the skills they need to prepare for successful careers in livable wage, sustainable jobs,” he said.
The governor’s PASmart initiative will invest $30 million in job training and STEM education to focus on fast-growing, in-demand jobs, including:
- $20 million for STEM and computer science education at all levels. Nearly 300,000 jobs in the commonwealth require skills in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). Over the next decade, more than 70 percent of new jobs will require these skills.
- $7 million for apprenticeships with a goal of doubling the number of registered apprentices by 2025. Since Governor Wolf established the commonwealth’s first Apprenticeship and Training Office in 2016, the number of registered apprentices has increased by nearly 20 percent from 13,282 registered apprentices to 15,972 statewide.
- $3 million increase for Industry Partnerships which bring together workers and multiple employers in the same industry in a public-private partnership to provide job training.
Last month, Governor Wolf signed an executive order placing the Pennsylvania Workforce Development Board (PA WDB), the governor’s private sector policy advisor, in a leading role to coordinate job training strategies across the public and private sectors and multiple state agencies. Secretary Rivera is a member of the board.
The PA WDB will provide recommendations on the distribution of the $30 million in PASmart funding, which will be driven out through competitive grants. This collaboration will help to ensure the investments meet employers’ need for skilled workers and that workers are gaining the skills for good, middle-class jobs that will grow Pennsylvania’s economy.
For more information about Pennsylvania’s education policies and programs, please visit the Department of Education’s website at www.education.pa.gov.
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