Midstate businesses partner with schools to develop workforce

Cris Collingwood//January 27, 2023

Midstate businesses partner with schools to develop workforce

Cris Collingwood//January 27, 2023

Midstate businesses partnered with area schools this week as they look to make a pathway for tomorrow’s workforce. 

More than 230 students from southcentral Pennsylvania were introduced to cybersecurity careers during an event presented by NuPaths at Harrisburg University, the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce and online Thursday. 

Jessica Hoffman, audit and compliance manager at Provincia Government Solutions, speaks to students about careers in cybersecurity at Harrisburg University – Photo by Jason Minick

At about the same time, 10 students from the Harrisburg School District participated in the “Beyond School Walls” program sponsored by Capital Blue Cross and Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Capital Region. 

BBBSCR’s Beyond School Walls program is designed to guide, teach and assist students as they explore career opportunities, develop vital workplace skills and learn how to build professional relationships.   

NuPath’s Cybersecurity Awareness Day for middle and high school students was designed to allow students to explore careers in cybersecurity while building awareness around safety in the digital world, said Andy Petroski, president of NuPaths, an IT and tech workforce development training provider co-founded by HU. 

The program was a collaboration from the Lancaster Chamber, the Southcentral PA Workforce Development Board, the Lancaster County Workforce Development Board, and HU. 

Jesse McCree, CEO of SCPa Works, said data shows that 50% of jobs today will not exist in the format they are today and told the students they need to develop a skill set that will allow them to land jobs. 

“Cybersecurity offers a skill set for jobs of the future,” he said. Those skills will “give you a foundation to compete in a market where AI and AR are in demand.” 

He also told them that career paths are less of a straight line and more like a “long winding road.”  

“We hope the students will learn the ecosystem for cybersecurity careers and build a pipeline for the industry,” Petroski said. 

Some of the topics the students explored included personal cybersecurity, careers and technical know-how.  

The day was funded by a $50,000 Ignite Grant NuPaths was awarded last year. NuPaths was one of 25 organizations from across the U.S. to receive Ignite and other grants via the Catalyze Challenge to design and launch career connected learning models primarily serving underserved student populations. 

During the Beyond School Walls program, Capital Blue Cross volunteer mentors helped students explore career opportunities and develop workplace skills. 

“In 2017, we partnered with Capital Blue Cross to launch our inaugural Beyond School Walls program,” said Amy Rote, BBBSCR president & CEO. “With the help and guidance of their mentors, we watched as each student developed their post-graduation plan and put it into action. The employees of Capital Blue Cross saw their mentees expand their worldviews, build their self-confidence, develop workplace-ready soft-skills, and celebrate their high school graduation.”  

Rote said BBBSCR hopes to make the same positive impact on the second group of students. 

 Capital Blue Cross Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing Dave Skerpon said, “Six years ago, Capital Blue Cross became the first Central Pennsylvania company to participate in Beyond School Walls. Our Capital volunteers deeply enjoyed mentoring that inaugural class, and we’re proud to now help a second class of promising students forge skills that could create greater futures.” 

Harrisburg School District Superintendent Eric Turman, said, “Through the power of partnership and workplace mentoring, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Capital Region and Capital Blue Cross have given Harrisburg School District students extraordinary opportunities for growth and development through the Beyond School Walls mentoring program.”  

In addition to providing nearly $20,000 in scholarships, the program supports students by focusing on workplace readiness, college and career exploration, and the development of professional skills, Turman said.