Boldness, transformation, commitment to community and hope were some of the key themes that ran through the speeches Friday at the celebration of the launching of the Education and Training Hub at the University of Pittsburgh at Titusville.
The goal of the innovative hub model is to get people into the workforce by partnering with Pitt’s Manufacturing Assistance Center, Northern Pennsylvania Regional College and the Manchester Bidwell Corp. based in Pittsburgh to offer classes and vocational training tailored to meet the needs of the local and regional industry.
A theme that came up repeatedly Friday was serving the undeserved area of western Pennsylvania, especially those who are unemployed or underemployed, by providing vocational training.
Ann Cudd, provost of the University of Pittsburgh, reiterated Pitt’s commitment to Titusville and to work to meet the needs of the region.
“The future here is bright,” she said. “This hub was designed for and with the community. It is open to anyone who wants to improve their skills,” Cudd added.
Catherine Koverola, the president at Pitt-Titusville, said the hub will be student focused and provide educational and vocational training to anyone with a high school diploma or GED. She also emphasized that the four entities teaching at the hub are not merely sharing space but being “knit together in all we do.”
William Strickland, the founder and executive chairman of Manchester Bidwell Corp., said he is in the business of “revitalizing with the medicine of hope.”
Manchester Bidwell will offer a state certified medical assistant program with both clinical and clerical training beginning in the fall of 2020, Joanna Papada, the vice president of external relations for Manchester Bidwell, said.
She added that Manchester Bidwell will also offer a youth program in ceramics and digital imaging open to all high school students beginning in 2021.
Soon after, the firm plans to offer a manufacturing apprenticeship program and technology program, Papada said.
Strickland said his corporation would keep the commitments made to Titusville and the region and that he is certain the hub will have no problem recruiting or retaining students and that Titusville will thrive.
Rob Beatty, administrator for Pitt’s manufacturing assistance center, said center personnel have met with companies in and around Titusville to see what their needs are.
The Pitt manufacturing assistance center will offer comprehensive machinist courses with lectures and hands-on training and work with local companies to place workers, Beatty said.
The plan is for the center to begin vocational training in 2022, Karen Enos, interim executive director of the training hub, said.
An important component of phasing in the new hub will be extensive building renovations so that the space at Pitt-Titusville will be better suited to the needs of the hub, Rick Esch, vice president of business affairs at Pitt-Titusville, said.