Q3 2023 Pulse

President's Quarterly Letter


In a dynamic landscape where industries are in a constant state of flux, the nexus between classroom education and real-world workforce requirements has become increasingly pivotal. This is where the Your Employability Skills (YES) Program has emerged as a significant bridge. Originally established in 2006 within a single school district, the program has since expanded its reach to collaborate with 20 school districts, including notable partners such as Blue Mountain, Hazleton, Gillingham Charter School, as well as affiliations with diverse entities like Fort LeBoeuf in Erie County and the Children’s Home of Reading in Berks County.

The significance of the YES Program is encapsulated not solely by statistics, but by its transformative role. In the span of a year, it successfully enrolled 1,050 students, with 225 of them attaining the prestigious YES Certificate upon graduation. Cumulatively, the program has engaged a substantial 11,547 students, culminating in 3,511 certificate recipients who hold credentials recognized by industries. This accomplishment carries further weight as it translates into 500 employers offering preferential interviews to these certified graduates.

However, the program's influence extends beyond mere numerical metrics. It garners support from esteemed higher education institutions. For instance, Penn State University has taken the lead in providing dedicated scholarships to YES graduates at its Hazleton and Schuylkill campuses. Over the years, this commitment has resulted in an impressive total of $218,000 in scholarships. In tandem, the Pennsylvania College of Technology and Johnson College have also demonstrated substantial support by offering their own robust scholarship initiatives.

Yet, the YES Program's impact doesn't conclude with education; it ventures into shaping career trajectories. In a period marked by a looming workforce crisis, the program serves as a beacon of hope. It has strategically identified 155 job openings tailored for YES alumni across 31 companies. Through adept communication channels, encompassing an alumni database and social media platforms, opportunities continue to flow to program participants. A testament to its comprehensive approach, the YES Recognition Breakfast stands out. This event, graced by the presence of Pennsylvania's Treasurer, Stacy Garrity, as the keynote speaker, honored 225 graduates with the esteemed Y.E.S. Northeast Certificate in front of an audience of 261 attendees.

The YES Program's accomplishments during the 2022-23 academic year are not merely indicative of a bridge between education and employment, but they also exemplify the creation of a capable and adaptable community, equipped to confront the challenges of the modern world. It's a program that believes in the power of transformation, investing in students' futures through multifaceted avenues.

A Comprehensive Approach: The YES Northeast Workshop Series

In an environment where job readiness and career exploration play pivotal roles, the Council's YES Northeast Workshop Series has emerged as a transformative force. Established in 2011, this ambitious initiative, deeply rooted in the YES Northeast curriculum, has meticulously crafted a sequence of 22 workshops. These sessions, designed to elucidate job readiness skills and delve into career exploration, are far from one-size-fits-all. Instead, they offer adaptability to cater to the distinct needs of diverse audiences.

Effectively embracing the digital age, these workshops are seamlessly conducted both in-person and virtually through platforms like Zoom. Primarily targeted at young adults aged 17 to 24, the CareerLink series aligns seamlessly with individuals pursuing their GED qualifications.

The Council's reach expanded this year, organizing three distinct workshop series across prime locations: Pottsville, Hazleton, and Wilkes-Barre. These series were strategically positioned at respective CareerLink venues, engaging students immersed in their GED pursuits. The Council's innovation extended beyond convention with the introduction of the 'Workplace Bootcamp Series' – an innovative addition consisting of eight specialized workshops. This series emphasizes fundamental workplace skills essential for local vocational students enrolled in Schuylkill and Luzerne counties.

Through these collective efforts, the cumulative count tallies an impressive 70 workshops conducted. These sessions, exceeding mere quantitative values, signify a commitment – a commitment to nurturing a generation that's not only educated but also adept at navigating the intricacies of the modern workplace. The Council's YES Northeast Workshop Series goes beyond mere skill impartation; it actively contributes to shaping the future, one workshop at a time.

Darlene J. Robbins

MAEA President