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Amanda Novak, the human resources manager for ABC member company The Tri-M Group, LLC, testified on behalf of the merit shop construction industry during a field hearing about what employers need from educators and state officials to fix the workforce issues we face. 

The bi-partisan field hearing, “The Role of Career & Technical Education in Creating a Skilled Workforce: Perspectives from Employers and Stakeholders,” was held by the House Career and Technical Education Caucus in Harrisburg, Pa.  U.S. Representative Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA) co-chair of the Career and Technical Education Caucus gathered industry experts for the hearing with the goal of discussing what they see as the solution to the skills gap. 

In her testimony, Novak noted that the mass exit of baby boomers means it’s imperative to the future of construction that schools give students the opportunity to see what these types of jobs can offer them and help them discover the right tools to adequately prepare to enter the workforce. 

“To combat the sometimes negative perception associated with a career in construction, Tri-M partners with local trade and high schools to educate students and teachers and provide them with scrap material to assist in teaching the appropriate hands-on skills,” read Novak’s testimony. “To ensure that curriculums meet industry standards we have employees who serve on boards, such as the Electrical Advisory Board at Lehigh Career and Technical Institute. Additionally, our CEO/President serves on the State Apprenticeship and Training Council to assist in ensuring standards are upheld throughout the industry.”

The panelists also made it clear that without a defined alignment between employers and the education system, the curriculum cannot effectively prepare students for the jobs in the construction trade industry. 

Panelist Tamar Jacoby, president of Opportunity America, stated that employers have the best knowledge of what skills will be needed and allowing them to engage in the process that defines what is taught will ultimately help to create a truly skilled workforce.

Reps. Scott Perry (R-PA) and Mike Kelly (R-PA), along with state Sen. John Blake (D-PA) were also in attendance and participated in a Q&A session once the testimonies had been read.