Smeltz talks to KCSD board about benefits of career and technical education programs
By CHRIS MORELLI
MILL HALL — Clinton County commissioner Robert “Pete” Smeltz talked about the importance of career and technical education programs at last week’s Keystone Central School District meeting.
During his presentation, Smeltz talked about preparing students for future job markets. He took an in-depth look at what the county’s needs are – and what they will be in the future.
Smeltz is the chairman of the Central Pennsylvania Workforce Development Board. In preparation for his presentation, Smeltz said he spent many hours researching CTE.
“In my research, I have had the opportunity to hear about the many successes of CTE programs here at Central Mountain. The board and leadership are to be commended for sustaining some very beneficial curriculum,” Smeltz said. “I would suggest any proposals presented to this board by the administration to expand or alter CTE be given serious consideration. While educating our youth is our top priority, an element of that process includes preparing them for life, including obtaining family sustaining jobs.”
Smeltz said that his former neighbor, Matt Bean, is a perfect example of a success story.
“Matt was an honor graduate of Central Mountain High School who at the time placed first in the state of Pennsylvania in a Skills USA challenge for precision machining. He then went on to place second in a national competition held in Kentucky,” Smeltz explained. “Matt is now working through a very successful career path as a supervisor of maintenance on the production line at Lycoming Engines. Talking with Matt was very enlightening.”
Additionally, Smeltz said that he met with companies about their concerns about students who are coming into the workforce. Many aren’t prepared for the “real world.”
“The most expressed concern from numerous employers is students lacking basic life skills. If it does not come from parents, can the school help? Showing up for work on time, avoiding drug use and excessive alcohol use, learning to communicate, asking questions, dressing appropriately, etc . This is the number one concern from many employers regarding acquiring and sustaining a quality work force,” Smeltz noted.
According to Smeltz, not every high school student is built for college. And not every high school student needs a bachelor’s degree to have a successful career.
In fact, he said, there are plenty of high-paying careers out there that don’t require a college degree.
“We need CDL drivers, welders, machine mechanics, production control technicians for automated systems, production system programmers, carpenters, masons and ultimately people who can troubleshoot problems,” Smeltz said.
As an example, Smeltz cited First Quality, which will soon be opening a new plant. It will require 185 new employees.
Smeltz said that he is concerned about the county’s 5.4 percent unemployment rate – the highest in the nine county central Pennsylvania region.
CTE programs, he believes, can lower that number.
“Student success in academic endeavors is a priority, but career and technical training programs are equally as much a part of what it means to educate our children,” Smeltz said. “I will engage with all those I work with to enhance education for our students. It is one of the most desirable traits of a vibrant community.