PITTSBURGH (June 18, 2015) — To capitalize and expand on the success of Learn and Earn, the summer youth employment initiative, state Department of Labor and Industry Secretary Kathy Manderino announced nearly $1.1 million in funding to pilot a set of diverse STEM initiatives for opportunity youth.
This pilot, delivered by 3 Rivers Workforce Investment Board (3RWIB) will serve as a demonstration driven by authentic industry need and responsive to the problem of youth unemployment. Ultimately, this pilot will lay the groundwork to build the most efficient STEM programming for low income, opportunity youth that is scalable and meets the new demands of youth career pathways as outlined in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.
"Connecting youth to opportunities in tech-related fields will help them see that real opportunity for a meaningful career is available right here in the Pittsburgh region," said Stefani Pashman, 3RWIB chief executive officer. "At the same time, we're helping local tech firms build the pipeline they need to compete in a global economy."
This year, the 3 Rivers Workforce Investment Board, in collaboration with the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, embarked on an unprecedented endeavor to blend summer youth employment efforts to provide work experience, work-readiness coaching, and holistic support to 2,000 youth in the city and county. The program is on track to place more than 2,000 young people into jobs.
Despite the extraordinary number of summer jobs in Learn and Earn, the initiative faces two shortcomings, Pashman said. First, the number of youth applicants surpasses the number of summer employment opportunities, and second STEM-related careers are grossly underrepresented in the mix of available summer job opportunities.
3RWIB will pilot a set of diverse tech, employer led and driven initiatives for hundreds of opportunity youth in connection with Learn and Earn.
The STEM initiatives piloted will include:
Video Game Production – Paid internships at Simcoach Games to test and design a set of video games aimed at increasing soft skills and work-readiness of youth job seekers.
Digital Manufacturing – Paid internships at TechShop to engage in hands-on training in computer-assisted production technologies (e.g. laser cutting, 3D printing, injection molding, welding, etc.) and created marketable products.
Website Production – IT training for homeless youth with emphasis on entrepreneurship. Youth in this program will develop skills that allow them to produce websites for small business and market themselves as freelance designers.
Agile Robotics – Employer-led training conducted by a Career and Technical Education center. The youth will learn robotics and advanced manufacturing skills by building a Red-Planet-Rover that works in conjunction with Rocket Camp to simulate mission planning, space flight and exploration. Advanced youth will have the opportunity to couple this training with internships at the participating employers.
"Exposing youth to the STEM opportunities available in the region opens the door to a world of possibilities," Pashman said. "And at the same time, we're working to ensure the continued economic vitality of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County."
About 3 Rivers Workforce Investment Board: Nationally recognized for innovation, the Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board (3RWIB) delivers workforce solutions for Pittsburgh and Allegheny County to ensure that the current and future needs of businesses and job seekers are met. As stewards of more than $12 million in public and private workforce funds, 3RWIB responsibly and efficiently oversees and funds workforce programs for adults, dislocated workers and youth; educates the community through robust labor market analytics; and implements innovation solutions to the region's systemic workforce challenges. 3RWIB bridges the gap between people looking for work and companies in need of talent. More information is available at www.trwib.org.
Nationally recognized for innovation, Partner4Work delivers workforce solutions for Pittsburgh and Allegheny County to ensure the current and future needs of businesses and job seekers are met. As stewards of more than $20 million in public and private workforce funds, Partner4Work oversees and funds workforce programs for adults, dislocated workers and youth; educates the community through robust labor market analytics; and implements innovative solutions to the region's systemic workforce challenges. Partner4Work bridges the gap between people looking for work and companies in need of talent. More information is available at www.partner4work.org.