Workforce development is a pre-occupation of politicians in most places but in Susquehanna County all it requires is for government to stay out of the way.
Private companies and businesses in Susquehanna County continue to prove that they are on the leading edge of job creation and workforce development, and that the Gov. Tom Wolf administration and state government should simply stay out of the way.
Trucking companies in desperate demand of truck drivers have partnered with Cabot Oil and Gas, the Elk Lake School District and the Susquehanna County Career and Technical Center (SCCTC) to create their own supply, as the participating entities held a joint announcement this week of a new CDL training (workforce development) program.
“This is a significant undertaking,” said Elk Lake Superintendent Ken Cuomo. “Without these business partners, this would not be possible. There is a significant shortage of CDL drivers. This area has a need, and we have the opportunity to meet those needs through this program, at absolutely no cost to the taxpayers.”
The program will feature a classroom facility – a portion of which was actually delivered during the announcement – and a paved staging area for training.
“It’s truly a win-win-win,” Cuomo said. “It’s a win for the companies. It’s a win for the school, and it’s a win for the community to be able to offer the job training required for good-paying, family-sustaining careers.”
State Rep. Tina Pickett called Elk Lake and the SCCTC one of the “premier” schools in the state, and commended the school board for being visionary and identifying the needs of the job market.
“This place is truly becoming a leader in a new form of education” she said.
Susquehanna County Commissioner Alan Hall echoed Pickett’s words.
“This started with a school board that had a vision,” he said. “And it’s progressed to the business partnership we see today. The people that leave this program will be well-trained professional truck drivers. Programs like these prove that we don’t need the state to interfere with things like a severance tax, which would only prevent programs like this from becoming a reality and helping fill hundreds of jobs.”
State Rep. Jon Fritz added that the program was a “wonderful example” of local leadership, innovation and partnership.
“This is a big deal. We’re talking about $70,000-per-year jobs,” he said. “This is a needed community asset and I’m proud to be a part of it.”
GDS’ Chad Gorman, one of the trucking operators that partnered with the program, said he realized the need for truck drivers across the region beyond his own business.
“I needed 100 CDL drivers,” he said. “But I realized it wasn’t just me. These drivers were needed everywhere. This is going to be a huge benefit not just for my business, but for other operators across the state.”
Diaz Companies owner Adam Diaz added that he grew up playing in the soccer fields nearby, and now the children of his friends are even looking to enter the CDL driving industry.
“There are kids coming up right here that are going to be looking for jobs,” he said. “Yes, it’s a big investment. But it’s a huge opportunity for local people and new adults to make a very good living here at home.”
On a statewide scale, PA Chamber of Business and Industry Gene Barr said the program was the latest example of private businesses taking the next opportunity in energy.
“We have people without jobs, and jobs without people,” he said. “This is a huge step to help alleviate what I would call the workforce crisis here in our state. There are job openings everywhere, but we can’t wait for the government to fix it, and that’s why here businesses are partnering with the community to provide job training themselves.”
The program is tentatively scheduled to be operational in the fall, and more information about the program can be found by contacting SCCTC Executive Director Alice Davis at (570) 278-9229.
While Gov. Wolf continues to focus on scoring political talking points to appease his city constituents, rural Pennsylvania simply puts its head down and solves its own problems. Wolf can keep touring the state renewing his annual call for a severance tax. But rural, hard-working Pennsylvanians will train its own and continue to grow to meet the demand of a growing industry – all the while making good money for the families. Not sure how much more you could ask for.