Greater Reading Area Needs a Skilled and Ready Workforce to Prosper
By: Joe Reichard, Senior Campus Director, Berks Technical Institute
Berks Technical Institute (BTI) and its employer partners are focused on developing important connections and transitions between formal education and entry into the workforce.
Like many communities across this country, Berks County and Greater Reading face a number of education and workforce-related challenges. Issues such as high dropout rates in many area high schools, lower percentages of residents with higher education and a regional shortage of highly skilled technical have emerged. All of these issues warrant public attention, and many are being addressed by local organizations such as the Berks Business Education Coalition, which BTI is part of.
BTI is committed to working with area employers to transform the county’s career and technical education systems. The goal is to better prepare students who are entering growing technical career fields and supply local employers with a skilled and career-ready workforce. BTI is working towards this goal through its career services team and advisory board, which is comprised entirely of local employers. BTI and its advisory board meet twice a year to discuss curriculum, local opportunities for graduates and the externship program. Thanks to this initiative, BTI found that it has a relationship with 415 area companies between externships and graduate hires. Over 40-percent of BTI externs end up as a full-time hire.
BTI is thankful for the relationships it has developed with its employer partners. The opportunities forged from these partnerships give students a foot in the door and a chance to demonstrate their skill set and learn about the intricacies of a company. By building a strong base of talent in technical career fields, Berks County and Reading will not only benefit existing area companies, but will attract additional employers to the area thanks to a pipeline of skilled workers, further improving our local economy and transforming the lives of members of our community.