12,000 benefit from BU's WEDnetPA program

For immediate release: May 13, 2009

BLOOMSBURG — Nearly 12,000 Pennsylvania residents have gained work-related skills during the past decade through Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania's partnership with the Workforce and Economic Development Network of Pennsylvania (WEDnetPA). Across the commonwealth, more than 800,000 employees at 14,000 companies have taken advantage of WEDnetPA's Guaranteed Free Training Program since it began in 1999.

Tom Fletcher, BU's director of corporate and continuing education, said Bloomsburg University has provided $2.6 million in WEDnetPA funding to more than 100 companies in northeastern, south central and central Pennsylvania during the past 10 years. Nearly 12,000 employees benefited from basic skills and information technology programs, he added.

Bloomsburg University is one of 33 educational partners statewide that make up WEDnetPA, an organization created to provide training that will help companies become more competitive and strengthen the statewide business environment. Managed by Pennsylvania College of Technology, WEDnetPA provides access to training funds through an alliance of educational providers, including Bloomsburg University and her 13 sister institutions of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), the state's 14 community colleges, the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford and several technology centers.

The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development funds the Guaranteed Free Training through its customized job training program. Opportunities focus primarily on manufacturing fundamentals, product and process control, quality assurance, applied math and measurement and information technology. Ninety-one percent of the program's resources go directly to help pay for employee training.

During a recent WEDnetPA anniversary observance at the Capitol Rotunda in Harrisburg, George Cornelius, acting secretary of the Department of Community and Economic Development, reaffirmed Pennsylvania's commitment to training in the business community. "To date this year, WEDnetPA and Gov. Ed Rendell's administration have provided basic and entry-level skills training and advanced information technology training to more than 37,000 employees in 64 counties. This investment is providing businesses with an educated, highly skilled workforce to encourage job growth and business expansion."

Also attending the anniversary event were state Sen. John Gordner, state Rep. Peter Daley, Tom Venditti, WEDnetPA state director, and representatives from 30 companies where employees participated in the Guaranteed Free Training program.

Bloomsburg University is one of 14 universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. The university serves approximately 8,000 students, offering comprehensive programs of study in the colleges of Professional Studies, Business, Liberal Arts and Science and Technology.