State System Receives $50,000 Grant from Walmart Foundation for Career Guidance Pilot Program

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Funds will help pilot program that uses data to help students identify in-demand careers

Harrisburg, Pa. (October 18, 2016) — Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education received a $50,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation to help fund a pilot program that will use workforce data to enable students to identify more than 800 in-demand careers in the Commonwealth and plan a successful career path.

The pilot program will connect more than 75,000 students’ and adult learners’ educational credentials with the needs of the labor market by better aligning educational offerings with workforce data from throughout Pennsylvania. Some of the information that students and their families will be able to access includes degree requirement and career/industry outlooks, including information about the number of students currently pursuing specific degrees and careers.

“Pennsylvania is facing an information gap among young, educated adults about where job opportunities exist relative to the education they have received, and that can have a profound impact on our state’s ability to innovate and grow,” said Chancellor Frank T. Brogan. “This grant from Walmart will help us combine best practices, technology, and data so that we know the educational opportunities we provide are helping students succeed in Pennsylvania’s changing economy.”

The initial rollout phase of the program will include four universities situated in areas of high unemployment and relatively low levels of labor market transparency—Bloomsburg, California, Edinboro and Millersville Universities of Pennsylvania. The program eventually will be expanded to include all 14 publically owned State System universities, with a long-term goal of expanding it to all colleges and universities in Pennsylvania. The State System leadership also is exploring the option of making the pilot program available to high schools throughout the Commonwealth.

Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate has been declining since peaking at 8.7 percent in March 2010. Today, it stands below 5 percent, still leaving about 300,000 workers without jobs. Credentialed workers and dislocated adult workers, including veterans, with outdated skills make up a significant majority of those not working. While many Pennsylvanians are ready, willing, and able to work, they can’t find jobs that match their skills. Almost 20 percent of the state’s jobs are going unfilled because skilled workers are not available to fill them.

The Walmart Foundation grant will help address the challenge by allowing the State System to invest in specialized technology that helps students make strategic decisions about what careers are right for them and how those opportunities relate to education.

“By connecting Pennsylvania families and educators with the information they need to identify and pursue in-demand, fulfilling career paths, the State System is creating a game-changing pilot program that will benefit the Commonwealth for generations to come,” said Jason Klipa, Walmart Director of Public Affairs and Government Relations in Pennsylvania. “We’re proud to partner with the State System, and look forward to seeing the program’s positive impact on communities throughout the state.”

The grant was made possible through the Walmart Foundation’s Pennsylvania State Giving Program, which strives to award grants that have a long-lasting, positive impact on communities.

To be considered for support, prospective grantee organizations must submit applications through the Walmart Foundation State Giving Program’s online grant application. Applicants must have a current 501(c)3 tax-exempt status in order to meet the program’s minimum eligibility criteria. Additional information about the program’s funding guidelines and application process are available online at http://www.walmartfoundation.org/stategiving.

SOURCE: PASSHE press release