PPL Supports YES Northeast Certificate Program

PPL Donation

Employers say today’s job applicants often lack some basic skills. But a regional program run by the Northeast PA Manufacturers & Employers Council (MAEC) is closing that gap, with support from PPL.

PPL recently made a $10,000 contribution to the YES Northeast Certificate Program. YES is a 120-hour, 1-credit, year-round elective course that strengthens the employment skills of young people. The course includes 38 modules, including communication, team building, interview/resume/cover letter writing, completing a job application, personal finance, conflict resolution, and time management.

“PPL is committed to supporting organizations such as NEPA MAEC that are doing so much to prepare high school students for the future workplace,” said Carol Obando-Derstine, PPL Electric Utilities Regional Affairs Director. “We applaud their efforts in helping students develop the skills that employers are looking for.”

Headquartered in Allentown, PA, PPL Corporation (NYSE: PPL) is one of the largest companies in the U.S. utility sector. PPL's seven high-performing, award-winning utilities – including PPL Electric Utilities, which provides safe and reliable electric service in Pennsylvania -- serve 10 million customers in the U.S. and United Kingdom. The company and its 13,000 employees are dedicated to providing exceptional customer service and reliability and delivering superior value for shareowners. To learn more, visit www.pplweb.com.    

MAEC and Minersville Area High School Host Career Panel for Students

Panel 4

Planning a career path can often times be a daunting task for any teenager. It certainly helps when you’re surrounded by a business community and a school district that care about your future. Such is the case at Minersville Area High School, where a career panel was recently organized by school administrators and the Northeast PA Manufacturers and Employers Council (NEPA MAEC).

Kerri Green of the Lehigh Valley Health Network, James Shaffer Jr. & TJ Masteller of Lowes Retail Distribution Center, and Michele Atkinson of Sapa were on hand to field various employment related questions from the student body.

Minersville students Reiley Lonergan, Memunatu Dumaste, Aaron Snyder, and Matthew Horan represented the student body, delivering questions to the panel that ranged from educational requirements to how companies view employees with body art and tattoos.

It was a learning experience for everyone involved including the many students, teachers and administrators in attendance, as well as the business professionals themselves. As a result of the questions asked by the student body, they learned exactly what issues are weighing on the minds of their future workforce.

It’s these types of events that bring the worlds of education and business together that are crucial to spreading career awareness to tomorrow’s workforce. Through interaction with the business community, students learn how to take the academic knowledge and technical skills that they are receiving in the classroom environment and apply it to the workplace.

This sometimes overlooked step in the planning process can give students a leg up over their peers, as they have a firmer grasp on what it takes to be career ready. ”School staff and parents provide advice to the students on what is needed to be ‘career ready’, said Minersville Area Principal James Grabusky. “It was nice to see the students hear directly from local employers about what exactly they’re looking for in an employee. Many of our students believe they must move far away to access career opportunities, so it was great to hear them talking about the opportunities in our own community.”

Since the Lehigh Valley Health Network, Lowes, and Sapa all rank among the top five of employers in Schuylkill County, the local employer community was very well represented. All three companies are very active in the community and have a keen awareness of why reaching out to their future workforce is so important.

“As a community minded company, we very much look forward to and enjoy participating in these types of events,” said Shaffer. “It provides us with a wonderful opportunity to share our values and what we have to offer here at Lowe’s RDC 961. More importantly, however, it’s a chance for high school students to gain some insight into businesses’ expectations, in hopes to better prepare them for entry into the workforce.”

Lehigh Valley Health Network, Lowes, and Sapa are all highly involved in the community, eagerly participating in career based events. All three are very active with the Council’s other programming, especially the YES (Your Employability Skills) Northeast Certificate Program and the Schuylkill County Career Fair. They are a shining example of how companies should approach the youth of today.

Schuylkill County is fortunate enough to have many of these likeminded companies. When they’re paired with school districts like Minersville Area, who aggressively pursue these types of opportunities for our youth, it creates a perfect learning environment that will greatly increase the chances that students will not only succeed, but flourish.

This focus on employability skills and career readiness has been an idea that Minersville has been promoting for quite some time now. During the 2007-2008 school year, they were one of the first schools in the county to sign on to offer YES.

YES is a 120-hour, 1-credit, year-round elective course that addresses the shortfall of basic skills that employers say are lacking in many job applicants. The course, which was developed by both business and education, includes topics such as communication, team building, interviews, resume writing, completing a job application, personal finance, conflict resolution, and time management.

In addition to the knowledge that students gain from the YES curriculum, additional resources are available at their teacher’s disposal including guest speaking opportunities & interview simulations from business professionals, a video library, and facility tours. Minersville has taken full advantage of these tours over the years, touring businesses such as Ashland Technologies, Big Lots, Northeast Prestressed Products, Penn State Schuylkill, Prysmian Group, Schaeffer’s Harley-Davidson, the Schuylkill County Courthouse, T-102, Tyson Foods, Universal Forest Products, Walmart Distribution Center, and Wegmans, as well as all three employers that were represented on the career panel.

With career awareness events like this panel and programs like YES, Minersville students are undoubtedly better equipped to make those daunting career pathway decisions seem just a little bit easier.

Penn State Awards $96k in Scholarships to YES Students

$96,000. That’s how much money Penn State University has committed to YES Program graduates that attend their Hazleton and Schuylkill campuses.

This one-time $1,000 offer is available to any student that has earned a YES certificate and is considered a full-time student by the university. So far, the scholarship has been accepted by 17 students at the Hazleton campus and 79 students at the Schuylkill campus since it was first offered in 2011.

“Penn State Schuylkill has been honored to partner with the Northeast PA Manufacturers and Employers Council by offering YES program graduates, who are starting their college experience at Penn State Schuylkill, a one-time $1000 award,” said Janelle Gruber, Penn State Schuylkill’s Director of Enrollment Services. “Each year we see more and more YES program graduates choosing our campus and taking advantage of this great opportunity. This relationship has encouraged local students to not only see our campus through visits, but also think through their college choices with that end goal of employability.”

Beyond the scholarships, the relationship between the two organizations was taken a step further during the fall of 2013 when Penn State Schuylkill began offering campus tours to YES students. The tours provide a great look inside the world of higher education.

The visit includes a presentation that discusses both the types of employment available in higher education as well as general college recruitment information on the campus, majors, student activities/events, and student aid.  YES students then get to take in the campus with tour guides.

These tour guides, also known as the Lion Ambassadors, are a great resource to YES students as most of them are only a year or two removed from high school. This allows them to give extra insight to the current students about what to expect in the coming years in addition to the information they are providing about the campus. These tours have been pivotal in helping students understand the resources available at Penn State Schuylkill and the employment opportunities that may be open to them with a Penn State degree.

It’s these types of tours that give YES students a leg up on their peers, as they’re receiving direct exposure to various industries and in this case, a secondary educational institution. The importance of this isn’t lost on the business community.

“Students who participate in the YES program are getting exposure to important topics tied to employment that many students would not learn about until after high school,” said Gruber. “The program gets them thinking about vital factors such as what is available in the region, what training/education is needed, and what steps that they would need to accomplish their employment goals.  When a student completes this program and chooses to come to Penn State, we know that they come to us with a skill set around employment topics, which is uncommon for most traditional aged college students.”

The Council would like to thank Penn State for their commitment to all of our programming. We look forward to continuing this relationship in the future!

290 Students Earn YES Certification

The 2015-’16 YES program year came to an end in style with 13 districts sending their best dressed graduates to St. Nicholas Hall in Minersville. This year a total of 290 students were awarded the YES certificate, with 60 of those students achieving perfect attendance. This year we welcomed Pittston Area to the YES family. They had a total enrollment of 42 students with 21 earning certificates. Here are some quick YES facts from this past year:

  • A total of seventeen (17) schools offered the YES Program for the 2015-16 school year. They include Blue Mountain, Crestwood Area, Hazleton, Mahanoy Area, Minersville Area, North Schuylkill, Pine Grove Area, Pittston Area, Pottsville Area, Schuylkill Haven, Shenandoah Valley, Tamaqua Area, and Williams Valley, Wyoming Valley West high schools. The Schuylkill Intermediate Unit #29 also offered the program, as well as, Fort LeBoeuf and Central Tech in Erie County.
  • 59 tours were offered with 5 new tour hosts opening their doors to YES students. Those new tour hosts were: Big Lots Distribution Center, Gatorade, Keystone Automotive, Kevins Worldwide, and the Schuylkill County Courthouse. They offered 8 tours this year. Currently, there are 50 businesses offering tours. To date, 370 tours have been coordinated since the program began in 2006 with just 1 school district.
  • Mock interviews were conducted with YES program participants. Each student provided a cover letter and resume and the interview was customized to the student’s career interests. Seven (7) schools and 400 students participated.
  • Penn State University will continue to offer a one-time scholarship to all YES Northeast graduates who attend the Hazleton and Schuylkill campuses. To date, PSU Schuylkill has awarded 79 scholarships and PSU Hazleton has awarded 17 scholarships, totaling $96,000 in scholarships since 2011. McCann School of Business and Technology has granted 5 YES graduates their Imagine America Scholarship, and 2 YES graduates their Tuition Scholarship (one for 50% and one for 75%), which applies to campuses in Allentown, Carlisle, Dickson City, Hazleton, Pottsville, Sunbury, and Wilkes-Barre.