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Growing support for the skilled trades

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At our annual scholarship dinner this fall, we awarded scholarships to 62 current Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology students totaling a cumulative value of more than $142,000. This investment in our students, from companies and donors, reflects the growing movement to support the skilled trades—a movement our economy needs.

We are thankful that this year’s program included seven new scholarships created just over the past year. As the College continues its rapid growth, we will need support from individuals and companies to assist more students in acquiring the high-tech training they need to fill the many openings that are being created by the “Boomer” retirements. I would be happy to provide information on establishing scholarships here at Stevens, upon your inquiry. 

Fortunately, scholarships are not the only way organizations are helping Thaddeus Stevens meet our modern workforce demands. We are also thankful to both the Gunterberg Foundation , who awarded a $50,000 grant and the  Alcoa Foundation, which awarded a $20,000 grant to the College to support new  a 9-month structural welding certificate program that will become a full associate degree program. These funds helped equip the new student laboratory on campus.

These companies, organizations and individuals understand the importance of technical education. Policymakers are paying notice. As James Pierson of the Manhattan Institute wrote recently in the Wall Street Journal (paywall), “technical and vocational education should receive more emphasis as a path to upward mobility.”

He quotes Mike Rowe, host of the show “Dirty Jobs,” in questioning the change in how a “good” job is defined: “The bias against vocations, from carpentry and welding to the maintenance of high-tech machinery and computer repair, means that discussions of higher education typically neglect these paths.” Rowe is working with the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry to “Start the Conversation” and address the widening skills gap in the Commonwealth, and we are participating in that effort.

Thaddeus Stevens is fortunate that local businesses and philanthropists continue to support our programs, and we are pleased this message is getting wider attention. We are ready to transform today’s students into tomorrow’s workforce!

Mr. Tate is the Director of Development at Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology.

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