DYBERRY TOWNSHIP—Pennsylvania Deputy Secretary Eileen Cipriani of the Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) visited Wayne County Monday afternoon to join local teachers at Moka Origins as part of the Teachers in the Workplace (TIW) program.

“The Wolf Administration is committed to ensuring that local employers have access to a well-prepared workforce,” said Cipriani in a press release. “Engaging directly with employers through the Teacher in the Workplace program allows educators to experience real-world job skills in different industries. Teachers who participate in the program incorporate what they learn into their classroom instruction to better prepare their students for success.”

In April, the Wolf administration allocated $2.6 million in funding to support 59 TIW grants across the commonwealth.

Administered locally through a $50,000 allocation to the Pocono Counties Workforce Investment Board, the TIW program facilitates local educators touring businesses to learn what the real-world workforce demands are so they can better prepare their students for employment.

“Industries, particularly manufacturing, are experiencing a shortage of trained workers, which is why Governor Wolf is increasing access to job and skills training, STEM education, and career and technical education programs,” said Cipriani. “The governor’s PAsmart proposal is the bold plan to strategically invest in Pennsylvania’s workers and economy, and develop a pipeline of skilled workers that businesses need to succeed and grow.”

While at the Moka Origins' factory, teachers, administrators, and state officials viewed the company's roasting, hulling, grinding and tempering rooms to learn what skills are needed to operate the requisite machinery.

“Chocolate and coffee are two massively consumed products in today’s world. However, few people are aware of where these beans come from, who grows them, and what it truly takes to bring these products to our grocery shelves,” said Moka Origins Co-Founder and CEO Jeff Abella. “Because of this, coffee and cacao farmers face many disadvantages which inevitably results in poverty.

“We are working to change this. Our goal at Moka Origins is to produce premium coffee and chocolate, and use it as a vehicle to create positive social change throughout Africa and the world by working directly with farmers,” Abella added.

PAsmart

The TIW program is part of several initiatives aimed to bolster the Pennsylvania workforce with skills-trained employees.

DLI estimates between 2016 and 2026 there will be 590,000 new and replacements jobs in the Commonwealth, with nine percent growth estimated in the field related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

According to the PAsmart website, the five STEM occupations in Pennsylvania with the greatest number of expected new hires are carpenters (4,388 expected new hires), electricians (2,818), computer use support specialists (2,278), Industrial Machinery Mechanics (1,491), and dental hygienist (671).

Instead of requiring a four-year bachelor degree, the top four occupations can all be acquired through apprenticeships and on-the-job training.

Dental hygienist occupations can be acquired with a two-year associate degree, according to PAsmart.

Looking to encourage the growth of a STEM-trained workforce, including training in computer science and facilitation of apprentice ships and other programs, PAsmart will be expanded this year to provide $20 million toward education in science and technology.

According to a DLI news release, this $20 million will be split in half, granting $10 million for career and technical education and $10 million for hands-on skills training and apprenticeships.

More information about careers in Pennsylvania is available online at: www.pasmart.gov and www.dli.pa.gov.

—Information from a release was used in this story.