Community College of Philadelphia's Energy Center Seeks to Boost Sector by Expanding The Pipelines of Talent

PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 14 2012—Community College of Philadelphia President Stephen M. Curtis, PhD., will host a press conference at 10 a.m., Thursday, Nov. 15, in the Center for Business and Industry (CBI) to announce the creation of the College’s new Energy Training Center, which will offer post-secondary career, certificate and academic programs and work with leading companies on workforce development.

The result of a partnership between Labor & Industry (L&I) and the Community College of Philadelphia, the Energy Training Center is the second collaboration this year between the College and Governor Corbett’s Administration. In October, the College became the first pilot site for Pennsylvania Statewide Career Coach, an online L&I career-exploratory tool that connects high school graduates and job seekers to up-and-coming careers and to the colleges and universities that offer those degree programs. With Pennsylvania Career Coach, students can compare occupations, review salaries, and use a tool to assess whether they possess the interest and skill sets required to succeed in specific careers.

Pennsylvania Secretary of Labor & Industry Julia Hearthway is scheduled to join Dr. Curtis at the press conference, which will be held in Room C2-28 of CBI, at the corner of 18th and Callowhill streets. Other invited speakers include Steve Forde, vice president of Policy and Communications for the Marcellus Shale Coalition, and Lorraine S. Webb, Vice President, Organizational Development at Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW).

The Community College of Philadelphia Energy Training Center, led by the College’s Corporate Solutions workforce development team, is designed to serve as an education and training partner for the energy sector in the Philadelphia region, which includes refineries and other companies in oil, gas, water and renewable energy industries.

Pennsylvania is positioned as an energy hub, generating a growing demand for highly skilled workers to work in the sector and for the supply chain that serves it. The Commonwealth added 17,800 jobs in September, the second highest number in the United States behind Texas.

"Our region is home to the largest refinery on the East Coast, which is adding jobs and expanding the base of businesses that work in the energy supply chain," Dr. Curtis said. "The Center positions the College to support regional partners in identifying the skills training and education required to fill the sector’s vacant positions and increase workforce readiness. Secretary Hearthway and her staff have provided valuable support and resources, and we look forward to our ongoing collaboration."

L&I Secretary Hearthway said, "Gov. Corbett understands the substantial benefits the energy industry brings to Pennsylvania. Under his leadership, Labor & Industry began its relationship with Community College of Philadelphia in the creation of the Energy Training Center, which will enable Philadelphia-area job seekers and employers to participate in the growth and success of the dynamic natural gas industry."

The College is using workforce data provided by Sue Mukherjee, Director of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry Center for Workforce Information and Analysis, to assess which courses, certificates and academic degrees are most likely to meet the current needs of the energy supply chain and pay family-sustaining wages. The College’s Corporate Solutions team, with the help of L&I, also has held focus groups with companies working in the energy supply chain and met with individual employers to discuss their specific needs and challenges.

"With energy jobs so readily available, leading companies need workers with specialized technical skills, as well as frontline employees equipped to handle daily tasks such as accounting, bookkeeping, sales, office management and customer service," Dr. Curtis said. "The goal is to support the supply chain now serving energy companies and offer specialized career training that connects residents to the high-pay, high-demand career paths."

Though still in its infancy, a number of degree and certificate programs will be available at the Center as early as spring semester. For example, the Building Science Associate in Applied Science degree will prepare students for a career in the energy conservation industry and for such jobs as energy auditor, renewable energy installer and computer energy modeler. In addition, a range of professional development courses and workshops will be offered, allowing prospective job applicants in the energy-sector to upgrade skills and earn new credentials.

Nearly 235,000 Pennsylvanians are employed directly and indirectly within Marcellus Shale related industries. More than 70 percent of the Marcellus Shale direct jobs are being filled by Pennsylvanians.