Labor, Industry secretary visits Blair’s CareerLink

State Department of Labor and Industry Secretary Jerry Oleksiak stopped at Blair County CareerLink Wednesday to celebrate the success stories of people finding jobs.

“What is gratifying to me, we must remember there are real people at the end of the process: people who have lost a job, people receiving unemployment, they are our fellow citizens. We are providing help to these people. We have to let people know about the great opportunities that are here at the CareerLink Center here and across the state,” Oleksiak said.

Oleksiak said he is excited about Gov. Tom Wolf’s PAsmart — a new workforce development initiative that helps connect Pennsylvanians with resources for working and training.

The $50 million program includes a $25 million increase in science, technology, engineering and math as well as computer science education at all levels, a $10 million increase to develop career and technical education and STEM career pathways to help students learn about career options and earn an associate degree at a lower cost and in less time, and a $7 million increase in apprenticeships with a goal of doubling the number of registered apprentices by 2025.

“With the new initiative here, we have state money going into an apprenticeship program. Everyone benefits, the region, the community and the commonwealth. It is about government that works creating jobs that pay,” Oleksiak said.

Both employees and employers spoke highly of CareerLink during Oleksiak’s visit.

CareerLink has helped Scott Collins, who works in human resources at Champion Home Builders. He had worked for Cannondale for 17 years before losing his job.

“CareerLink, whether in Blair County or Bedford County, has been great with me as an employee and as an employer. I am begging for applicants and applications, CareerLink has helped with that process. If I pick up the phone, they may not be the answer but can give me direction,” Collins said.

Atlantic Broadband employees Douglas D’Antonio and Trent Watson also have been helped by CareerLink.

D’Antonio said he got a job through CareerLink in 2011 but then became a displaced worker.

“Several people helped me with resume writing, job interviews and trying to find a job. They had a career fair for Atlantic Broadband. I got an offer and a job. It is a great place to work. CareerLink, the services they provide here, if not for them I wouldn’t be here today,” said D’Antonio, a voice data specialist.

“I’ve interviewed hundreds of people from CareerLink. Most of our hires have come through CareerLink. It is hard to find specific skills sets; CareerLink has been very helpful doing that for us,” said Watson, supervisor of advanced services.

Cherie Brandt, franchise owner of Sub Zero, hired Aurora Dell through CareerLink’s summer youth employment program.

“Aurora is a perfect fit. With an ice cream store getting people to work is not a problem; it is more difficult to get the right people. With kids from CareerLink, they want to work and learn,” Brandt said.

Jason Yoder landed a job as a machinist with McLanahan Corp. after participating in the youth program last summer.

“I saw that as an opportunity for me. I met a lot of great people and about what the companies expect from you. I got to learn so much it was unbelievable. I got into one of the companies I was interested in that a lot of people my age can’t get into. I couldn’t be any more happy than I am right now,” Yoder said. Oleksiak expects to hear more success stories in the future.

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