Edinboro team responds to General Electric layoffs

Category:  News
Wednesday, September 6th, 2017 at 5:00 PM

On July 31, Edinboro University announced it was forming a response team to assist dislocated workers, namely those from the Erie General Electric (GE) plant, to help, “identify and coordinate resources and support for the workers,” according to a university press release.

Dr. Philomena Gill, director of transfer and adult student services, is spearheading the team, which also involves representatives from various university departments.

“We started talking about it (forming the team) immediately,” Gill said. “We already have a large population of trade adjustment assistance (TAA) students here.”

TAA is a federally funded program which assists those who have been dislocated from their work. As of the 2016-17 school year, there were five associate degree programs, 19 bachelor degree programs and three master degree programs that are approved for TAA funding. Most are from the business administration, computer science, mathematics and nursing programs.

Currently, the university has approximately 45 TAA students. The majority of those students began in the fall 2016 semester, following the first round of GE layoffs, and are on track to graduate this May. Gill said six new students started in the spring semester, and five began this semester.

Although the majority of TAA students are from GE, the program also includes employees from other manufacturing corporations in

the area, including Clover Industries, GMC Technologies, Joy Mining Machinery and Tool-Rite.

If TAA students come to the university with sophomore-level credits, then they may be able to successfully obtain their bachelor’s degree by the end of the program. However, since most come in with no previous credits, many obtain their associate degree.

Monica Clem, director of career services, explained: “Since dislocated workforce students are adults with several years of professional experience, they come to EU with a lot of transferable skills. Our job is to teach them how to identify those skills and apply them to a new context, as well as build new skills and knowledge bases during their time at Edinboro.”

She continued: “We also work to educate students on the changing labor market so they can make well-informed decisions and understand how to navigate a job market that looks very different than it did even 5-10 years ago. We offer specific programs to accomplish this, including the Lunch and Learn professional development series, online tools, career assessments, data-driven resources, extensive employer engagement and individualized coaching sessions.”

According to Gill, TAA only gives students two years to complete their training. Additionally, TAA requires students to attend school year-round, so students must take summer and winter courses.

If they continue their training for two years, they are able to receive unemployment benefits while attending school. If there is a gap in training of more than 30 days, students can lose their unemployment benefits.

“If and when the next round (of GE layoffs) happens, it will take a little bit of time because there’s a lot of approvals they have to go through once they are notified of their layoff,” Gill said.

“They have to take a test at CareerLink and go through a process to see if they are college ready, find a training provider and find a program. The time they are separated from their employment to the time they can begin training somewhere can sometimes be six months or maybe a little more.”

“(TAA) Students may choose where they attend school; once they are here, they are an Edinboro student and we want them to feel at home here,” Clem said. “In the Center for Career Development and Experiential Learning, we are building programming and initiatives from the ground up that work for a wide variety of students: first-year, adult, traditional, transfer, etc. I would encourage all students to familiarize themselves with the Center for Career Development and Experiential Learning very early in their time as a student— we especially welcome first-year students to engage with us regardless of whether they are attending through the TAA program or another program.”

Dakota Palmer is the News Editor for The Spectator. She can be reached at eupnews. spectator@gmail.com

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