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Chamber centers future workforce at breakfast

Businesses and schools need to work together to help provide opportunities for the area’s future workforce, and the Blair County Chamber of Commerce BASICS program — Business And Schools Investing in Cooperative Solutions — plays a key role, leaders said Thursday at the Chamber Breakfast Club meeting.

Mount Aloysius College President John McKeegan praised the program that fosters a partnership between schools and businesses.

“They don’t just talk about things; they get things done,” McKeegan said.

McKeegan said Mount Aloysius is growing and working to respond to individual and community needs through partnerships with employers.

“Our duty is to provide people of high character with lives of purpose who will make a positive difference for others,” McKeegan said.

Mount Aloysius recently entered into a partnership with UPMC, the Future Heroes Nursing Scholarship Initiative, and into a partnership with Penn Highlands Healthcare for a surgical tech program.

“We enter partnerships because of what we can offer: our faculty is outstanding and our technology is first rate,” McKeegan said.

Area employers are stepping up, too, due to the need in the area, he said.

South Hills School of Business and Technology is also doing its part to provide workers for the area.

“We are preparing skilled workers; our graduates are having no trouble getting jobs,” said Altoona Campus Director Holly Emerick.

McKeegan said a college degree remains a good investment, but only 38% of Americans have a college degree.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, on average, an individual with a bachelor’s degree earns about $76,648 per year, compared to the $42,484 average yearly salary of a worker with a high school diploma.

“Having a four-year degree is said to provide you with $1 million more in your lifetime. Most students will graduate with a debt of between $20,000 and $30,000, that is less than the price of a new car. It is an investment in your future,” McKeegan said.

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 814-946-7467.

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