Hearing aims to strengthen Pennsylvania's rural workforce
The Center for Rural Pennsylvania Board of Directors heard testimony at Pennsylvania College of Technology on Thursday morning about rural workforce availability and population change.
Presenters at the 2½-hour hearing, held in the college's Thompson Professional Development Center, addressed strategies that workforce development organizations, economic development agencies and employers are taking to recruit and retain the rural workforce considering shrinking populations in rural areas.
The proceedings, which overlapped topic-wise with last week's hearing before the state Senate Majority Policy Committee exploring workforce challenges in the commonwealth's predominantly rural counties, also highlighted recent research into ways that communities can help reverse population decline by engaging in revitalization efforts and attracting new residents to those areas.
Nearly 90% of Penn College students hail from Pennsylvania, and two-thirds (66.7%) of those are from rural areas of the state, President Michael J. Reed said in his welcoming remarks..
"The majority of our graduates remain in Pennsylvania to work, and two-thirds (65.6%) report being employed in rural areas of the commonwealth," he added. "Nearly a quarter (24.9%) of our Pennsylvania graduates, between 2014-22, tell us they have remained in Lycoming County to begin their careers.
"Clearly, we continue to do our part to address business and industry needs in rural portions of Pennsylvania."
Thursday's hearing was segmented into four themed sections: Issues Facing the Rural Workforce, the Role of Education and Workforce Development, Strengthening Rural Pennsylvania Communities – Research Perspectives From the Brookings Institution, and New Research on Attracting Residents and Workers to Rural Pennsylvania.
The Center for Rural Pennsylvania board is led by State Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Loyalsock Township), who also chairs the college's board of directors. The visit had full participation from the center's 12-member board, which includes Shannon M. Munro, vice president for workforce development at Penn College.