Lehigh Valley Career and Technical School Graduates Participate in ‘Signing Day’
By Colin McEvoy on May 11, 2018
Today was a moment in the spotlight for more than 100 students graduating from career and technical educational institutions in the Lehigh Valley, many of whom will be heading directly into the workforce with a full-time job secured in their trade.
The SkillsUSA Council hosted its first ever “District 11 Signing Day” event on May 11, with students from five regional career and technical schools taking to the stage for a program modeled after similar signing day events for students receiving athletic scholarships.
About 40 percent of the students are going directly into the workforce full-time, while others are attending post-secondary institutions to pursue studies related to their trade, or going into the military, according to Katie Walter, Executive Director of the SkillsUSA Council.
“This is talent development at its finest,” said Nancy Dischinat, Executive Director of Workforce Board Lehigh Valley, the lead sponsor for the signing day event, which was held at Pennsylvania Lehigh Valley Careerlink in Allentown.
“The name of this SkillsUSA organization begins with the number one workforce requirement: skills,” Dischinat said. “Whether you’re going for higher education skills, or skills in our industry sectors like manufacturing, finance and insurance, health care, transportation and warehousing, professional, scientific, technical, or anything else: it’s all about skills.”
Donning suits and ties, regional students took to the stage and, with their future employers and educators at their side, one-by-one signed documents signifying their future professions and next career steps, all while as an audience full of family members and friends looked on.
The participating schools included the Bethlehem Area Vocational-Technical School, Career Institute of Technology, Lehigh Career and Technical Institute, Monroe Career & Technical Institution, and Upper Bucks County Technical School.
Karianne Gelinas, Director of Talent Supply with the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC), called the SkillsUSA Council signing day an inspiring celebration of career and technical education students reaching success.
“It was inspiring to see employers and their newly-minted employees celebrate today,” Gelinas said. “ I’m excited to see this event gain momentum and encourage others to seek out the benefits of a career and technical education.”
Promoting and coordinating a skilled and prepared workforce is one of the priorities of LVEDC, which is undertaking an initiative to identify talent supply and demand issues in the region. The organization is preparing to release a report from its ongoing talent supply study.
SkillsUSA Council is committed to creating a world-class workforce through professional development of local career and technical education students and partnerships with the local business community, to support local economic and community growth in the Greater Lehigh Valley.
“SkillsUSA Council is working to be a vital solution to our local economic and workforce challenges,” Walter said. “At a time when opportunity for employment is critical, SkillsUSA Council is working to ensure students attending career and technical schools in Lehigh, Monroe, Northampton, and Upper Bucks counties are equipped with the skills to successfully enter the workforce.”
Students from the signing day are entering into a wide range of industries and areas of study, including welding, culinary arts, business management, construction, accounting, electrical technology, computer science, psychology, web design, mechanical engineering, criminal justice, and more.
Founded in 1985 and recognized by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development for educational excellence, SkillsUSA Council serves more than 5,700 member students and more than 200 instructors in the five career and technical schools.
This diverse talent pipeline covers more than 44 trade, technical, and skilled service occupations, including some STEM-related programs. More than 83 corporations, trade associations, and businesses actively support the work of SkillsUSA Council, Walter said.
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