This column was originally published in the Gettysburg Times, April 12, 2018
By Kaycee Kemper
Economic development cannot flourish in our community, let alone across the state, without numerous critical partnerships. Right now, two of the most critical fields where economic development intersects are education and workforce development.
This is exactly why we are partnering more closely than ever before—and so grateful for the relationships—with Harrisburg Area Community College, Gettysburg Campus; all of our Adams County school districts plus Adams County Tech Prep; and CareerLink Adams County.
I recently had the opportunity to attend a talk given by Matt Stem, Deputy Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education, Pennsylvania Department of Education. I want to share some eye-opening statistics along with his insights, so that Adams County business and community leaders better understand how economic development merges with these fields.
By 2025, Stem says 60% of all jobs in Pennsylvania will require post-secondary education, whether it’s a college degree or vocational training. Additionally, by the end of this year—2018, there will be 300,000 new STEM-related jobs (science, technology, engineering and math) in the commonwealth. And, over the next ten years (by 2028), 71 percent of new jobs will require computer science skills.
Stem talked about the importance of several factors that will help us as leaders, meet these goals within Pennsylvania: grit, communication among all of us as partners and collaboration.
One huge step forward that our state is taking is a redesign of Pennsylvania student report cards. We are the only state that is in the process of adding a career-ready indicator! Schools are/will be helping students identify personal interests to help them decide on a career. Soft skills such as teamwork, budgeting, time management, and workplace skills are being reviewed with students; seeds are also being planted for entrepreneurship within our students along with the importance of how to write business plans.
The state is encouraging school districts to become better informed and more engaged on the local level with their communities’ needs in terms of workforce development. (We are grateful for the innovative work being done in this area through Adams County Tech Prep and HACC, Gettysburg!)
Pennsylvania is considered a national leader in STEM ecosystems by preparing students with STEM skills to meet workforce development needs. A statewide STEM coalition was formed in 2016, comprised of 140 educators, business/industry leaders and higher education leaders, who are all working together to inform practices at the local level.
“Research shows that students who are exposed to computer science in school are six times more likely to explore job-related opportunities in post-secondary education,” said Stem. “To ensure our students are ready for a 21st century workforce, it is critical every student has access to computer science and technology.”
We invite all business and community leaders to contact us about how you can get involved in these initiatives! We look forward to continuing to connect our local stakeholders so that Adams County can do its part to dovetail education with workforce demands. To learn more about state education initiatives, see education.pa.gov.
Kaycee Kemper, Vice President of Adams Economic Alliance, can be reached at 717-334-0042. The Adams Economic Alliance, is comprised of three organizations: The Adams County Economic Development Corporation (ACEDC), the Adams County Industrial Development Authority (ACIDA) and the Adams County General Authority (ACGA). For more information, see adamsalliance.org, or follow us on Twitter (@AdamsAlliance), Facebook (Facebook.com/AdamsAlliance) and LinkedIn (Adams Economic Alliance).