Summit focuses on training, retaining youth for workforce

FOX TWP. - On Wednesday approximately 125 school board members, representatives from various youth agencies and numerous employers attended the first Summit to Connect Business and Industry with Education, hosted by the North Central Workforce Investment Board (WIB) Youth Council.The summit, entitled "Preparing Our Youth for the 21st Century," featured three speakers and an interactive discussion panel that included residents from throughout North Central's coverage area of Elk, Cameron, Clearfield, Jefferson, McKean and Potter counties.The event was held at the Red Fern from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m."It's not just the kids coming out of school, it's also when you have a dislocated worker trying to find a new job, they don't have the skills that are needed today, so we have to do something about this because we're the Workforce Investment Board and it's our mission," said Pam Streich, North Central WIB's director of planning and workforce development.Following registration, a continental breakfast, a welcome and overview of the day, speaker Bill Bartle offered the first presentation of the summit. As the Youth Policy Director for PA Partnerships for Children, a statewide advocacy organization for children and young adults, Bartle spoke about "Promising Pathways to Careers: Partnering to Provide Work-Based Learning Opportunities for Young People," by describing a solution to informing young people and their parents about jobs of the new economy, as well as the education and skills needed to attain them. He stated that many employers have difficulty finding the qualified workers they need to innovate and grow. One solution to this issue is for business and education to partner and provide career awareness and work-based learning opportunities for young people.Bartle emphasized the importance of work-based learning and why it is of vital importance to young people and employers. He also shared a toolkit which PA Partnerships for Children compiled in order to help employers, after-school providers and local work-based partners to create quality opportunities for young people.