Governor representatives hold private meeting at Edinboro

Category:  News
Wednesday, November 8th, 2017 at 5:28 PM
Governor representatives hold private meeting at Edinboro by Macala Leigey
Photo: Macala Leigey

A closed meeting between representatives of Pennsylvania’s governor’s board, members of Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), executives of area companies, professors from nearby universities, and other prominent area individuals was held Friday, Nov. 3, at Edinboro University.

The private meeting was arranged as part of a series of regional meetings to discuss the taskforce of Pennsylvania’s middle-class.

“What we’re going to be discussing today are issues. We know there are many, many issues, but today we are going to concentrate on jobs that pay, and how can we help these small businesses with their workforce to come,” PASSHE’s Assistant Vice Chancellor for Educational Intelligence Dr. Sue Mukherjee said.

Mukherjee also shared that in Pennsylvania, 98 percent of the businesses are small trades.

“So ultimately, if you help students, you help workers [and] you help employers. It’s great to do this sort of conversation in Harrisburg, but Pennsylvania is big and large, [so] we want to go to each region and see the regional complexities that are really hurting the middle-class,” Mukherjee said.

With 58 percent of Pennsylvania’s middle class lacking postsecondary education, and a projected 47 percent of Pennsylvania’s northwestern area jobs to require postsecondary education by 2024, improving higher education was also a large part of the meeting’s conversation.

“We need to make sure we are training our students and workers for jobs that are relevant for the 21st century; we need to make awareness of these jobs. Second, we need to listen to our employers and make sure the education that we are providing is aligned with what students need and what employers need,” Mukherjee said.

In the northwestern Pennsylvania region, there are 30 higher education institutions that award an associate degree or higher. Combined, the institutions graduate about 10,200 students annually with an associate degree or higher — 2,100 associate degrees and 8,100 bachelor’s degrees or higher.

Additionally, in the northwestern area, the top three jobs with the highest demand gaps include: registered nurses, with an annual wage of over $66,000; rehabilitation counselors, who make roughly $39,000 a year; and healthcare social workers, with an annual wage close to $48,000. 

As of 2016, the northwest area has 22,437 employers and 397,500 jobs.

Currently, for Erie County, its labor force population is 131,500, with 124,300 residents employed and 7,200 unemployed.

“We have just had a lot of economic shifts here (Erie County), which has disadvantaged many good workers. They [Erie workers] may need what’s called ‘upscaling,’ — they may need reskilling,” Mukherjee said.

She continued: “Education solution in a timely manner is what Erie needs. We need to work with the governor to make sure we are getting new businesses, as old business do hemorrhage. We need to get new businesses and new opportunities for people in Erie. We need to retain people to stay and grow here.”

Macala Leigey can be reached at eupnews.spectator@gmail.com.

Tags: passhe

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