PPS students can pursue employment, training through the city’s new program

The City of Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Public Schools have launched a Workforce Development Program to help steer children toward careers in government, robotics, or business skills. Students will be able to access internships and entry-level job opportunities with about 40 private industry groups and in city government, officials said Friday.

“As leaders, we have an obligation and a responsibility to you,” Mayor Ed Gainey told a crowd of PPS students at a news conference Friday. “Whatever level of higher education you want to go to, we need to provide you with a pathway to get there.”

The city has previously donated resources to PPS for the same mission: A retired city fire truck was donated to bolster a public safety training program at Westinghouse High School in 2015. But officials said that Friday’s announcement would formalize this relationship. Leaders of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Argo AI, Steamfitters and the United Brotherhood of Carpenters gathered at the City-County Building to speak with the students.

City Schools Superintendent Wayne Walters said a critical part of the district’s vocational and technical education program is that it goes beyond classroom training. It “not only prepares students for 21st century careers, but creates meaningful partnerships that break down barriers to employment,” he said.

Students will be able to establish professional connections with shadowing opportunities and internships that could lead to entry-level jobs.

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Kiley Koscinski

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90.5 SAME

The students met with Pittsburgh Public Schools and downtown city leaders on Friday.

Partner4Work, a nonprofit that connects job seekers to employment, will also participate in the program, providing students with city-wide and county-wide resources. Rob Cherry, CEO of Partner4Work, said people between the ages of 16 and 24 are most likely to face barriers to employment. But he noted that the statistics should not discourage students.

“We believe in you. There are so many opportunities and careers here if you’re ready to take advantage of them,” Cherry said.

The program will also include private companies like autonomous vehicle developer Argo AI. CEO Bryan Salesky invited students to tour the company’s headquarters in the Strip District. According to him, companies like Argo AI want Pittsburgh public school students to be employees.

“You don’t need a college degree to be successful. … If you want to go to college, that’s a great path, but there are so many more out there,” Salesky said. We need people who know how to work with their hands and their minds.”

Students can also start training in areas such as public safety, social work, and other public sector jobs.

Shaila Fitzgerald, a high school student from Westinghouse, has been studying in the emergency medical services program since 9th grade.

“We actually do CPR work. We do these real-life experiences. We see what it will look like in the real world,” she said.

Without the program, Fitzgerald said she might have considered a career in cosmetology. But her classes directed her passion towards saving lives as an EMS worker. She said Westinghouse gave her a taste of what the job was like.

Many speakers alluded to the barriers Pittsburgh public school students face when it comes to planning for life after graduation. Gainey and Walters pointed to the workforce development program as a way to keep kids on track toward sustainable career options.

This resonated with Fitzgerald.

“You start thinking to yourself, ‘Can I really do this? It’s getting harder and harder and you have doubts,'” she said. encouragement she needed.

“They were in our places before. So they want to see us do better. They want to see us grow,” she said. “And I really like that.”

After the press conference, dozens of students spent time talking with business and city leaders about the program’s opportunities. Walters said the students in attendance on Friday were taking advantage of all the resources available.

“All of you here today will be job-ready after graduation,” he said, “when you move on either to post-secondary education or to well-paying jobs like the ones you are now. offered in the city of Pittsburgh”.

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