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Pittsburgh educational program in the presidential spotlight

President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden near Air Force One at Pittsburgh Intl. Airport
President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden near Air Force One at Pittsburgh Intl. Airport
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

President Obama visited Pittsburgh, to announce his latest job creation proposal. The $600 million program will work to put people in jobs, and he hopes to use that money to fund programs like one that is already offered at CCAC in the Pittsburgh region.

Shifting to meet the needs of the times isn't new to the Pittsburgh region. The latest departures - primarily in the auto industry, thanks to the re-organization of GM under the government bailout - just added to the demand to offer new careers to displaced workers. Other industries have moved into the region, from science and technology, to manufacturing and medical sectors. Even internet giants like Google have a foothold in the city.

Where CCAC comes in for local workers is through their large selection of career training options that can get a person ready for a new career in under two years - some programs last just six months. Obama visited the West Hills Center, and focused on vocational and apprenticeship programs, since that is where he is hoping to invest some of the existing budget. However, CCAC has professional training programs for people in much more than industrial trades.

Because of the large medical job market in the region, of course there are medical career training options. Also, there are professional development programs that are used by many local companies to train their existing staffs in emerging technologies or business skills. As their website states:

Education and skills are essential for today’s changing economy. The competitive global environment rewards workers who possess sound general knowledge that enables them to adapt to changes in the workplace and continually learn new job skills.

To build this region’s competitiveness, CCAC must be a key element in the value proposition to prospective investors and employers – a guarantor of a constant supply of highly skilled workers.

Toward this objective, the college is transforming its workforce training division into a quality-driven, sales-oriented enterprise that will work closely with the area’s employers and economic development officials.

Partnerships between corporations and schools for the purpose of tailoring educational programs to meet the specific needs of potential employers isn't new. It's been the way the system works in countries like Japan for years. Americans have been starting to accept that it's a good idea to make sure that students are prepared to take a place in the workforce when they graduate. CCAC is showing how it can work, American-style.

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