Developing Educational Training Options“Education and Training – Where, When, and How YOU Need It!” sums up what the Keystone Community Education Council (Keystone CEC, KCEC) is all about. The Keystone CEC acts as a non-biased clearinghouse and education referral resource for all education providers, and as a coordinator of their efforts. The KCEC acts as a “niche-filler” identifying, brokering, and developing educational training options that are currently not available in their service area. KCEC currently covers Clarion, Crawford, Mercer, and Venango Counties in NW Pennsylvania, and the surrounding area.

Career Assessment/Exploration – Need help trying to decide what your next career move should be? Check out our new Career Assessment/Exploration page!

5 Technical Certificate Programs are being Offered in the Fall of 2019

Funding available for Youth 16-24 – Must Register by June 1st

Don’t miss this opportunity!

  • Gain the skills needed to get a good-paying job!
  • Low to no tuition costs!
  • No need to travel far…just to a local Career and Technical Center!
  • Earn while you learn with participating employers!

The Keystone Community Education Council, the Community College of Allegheny County, local career and technical centers and the Appalachian Regional Commission have partnered to bring five (5) Technical Certificate Programs into the Northwest Pennsylvania area.

Basic Electronics Technology Certificate,
Facility Maintenance Technology Certificate
Machine Technology Certificate
Mechatronics Technician Certificate
Welding Technology Certificate

These programs are being offered to help address the “skills gap” problem in the manufacturing industry in our region. This will bring the same affordable, quality, technical education offered at the Community Colleges to the underserved rural counties of Northwest PA at the lowest cost possible. This partnership is a proven method to help rural communities and local employers meet their educational/training needs by utilizing the local Career and Technology Centers during the times they are not being used by high school students.

The Pennsylvania CareerLink Young Adult Services has funds available to help cover training costs if you are between 16-24 years of age and fit any of these conditions:

  • Dropped out of school
  • Low in math, reading, and/or writing skills
  • Unstable housing, runaway, or in foster care
  • Pregnant or parenting
  • Burdened with a Criminal Record
  • Disabled or faced with other barriers to employment
  • English as a second language
  • Need additional assistance to complete your education

It is important to sign up for these classes by June 15, 2019 to access these funds. Classes will begin in the fall. To learn more about this opportunity, please call the Keystone Community Education Council at 814-677-4427.



Keystone CEC Awarded ARC POWER Grant

Local Collaborative Group Awarded ARC POWER Grant

Clarion University of Pennsylvania, in collaboration with the Keystone Community Education Council (KCEC), has been awarded a POWER grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) for the Northwest Pennsylvania Diversifying the Regional Economy Project. The project covers Clarion, Crawford, Forest and Venango Counties.  The POWER acronym from ARC promotes Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization.

The $2.2 million grant will be managed by Clarion University, with KCEC facilitating programming efforts in conjunction with other partners. Funding for the program will run through November 2021 and consists of $1.1 million from ARC and $1.1 million of in-kind contributions from partnerships.

Members of this collaborative group include Keystone Community Education Council (KCEC), Clarion University (CU), Venango Technology Center (VTC), Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC), the Northwest PA Oil & Gas HUB (HUB), and the Steel Valley Authority (SVA).

“We laid the groundwork for the POWER grant when we set up a transition program to help the Joy Corporation when its layoffs occurred,” said Lance Hummer, executive director of KCEC.  “We’ve had grants from the ARC before, but never as big as the current one,” he added.

There are several objectives in the grant.  The first is to prepare students for post-secondary education and the workforce.  The way that will be accomplished is through pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs in conjunction with area businesses and KCEC, VTC, CU and SVA.

The grant will mean nearly $500,000 in funding for the Venango Technology Center and Clarion University’s Venango Campus, allowing these institutions to invest in equipment and training to support apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programming.  Resources will be available to link and inform students, families, and educators of the programs’ benefits.  Additionally, the ARC POWER funding provides nearly $250,000 in financial support for students to ensure that the training is affordable and accessible.

The second objective of the grant is to “develop and support career-specific education and skills training for students and workers.”  KCEC, Northwest PA Oil & Gas HUB, and SVA, will work with employers to promote existing apprenticeships, as well as develop new ones.  For example, a Plastic Process Technician apprenticeship is being developed to help meet the demands of the growing plastics industry.

KCEC has already worked with the CCAC and the VTC in promoting adult-certificate programs, such as their Welding Technology Certificate, in which students earn 18 college credits.  By combining their resources, KCEC, CU, CCAC, and VTC plan to offer four new certificate programs based on needs identified by regional industries.

These programs include Machine Technician (23 credits), Mechatronics/Industrial Maintenance (30 credits), and an Entrepreneurship certificate program.  All of these programs are related to the petrochemical and energy industries and are open to adults wanting to upgrade their skills.

Another example of career-specific education would be earning an associate degree in Applied Technologies.  Both CU and CCAC will accept credits students earn during certificate programs, and those credits can be applied toward earning an associate degree as well.

The third objective of the grant is to identify new market opportunities and the growth of businesses, particularly in the advanced manufacturing and energy sectors.  The hope is that recent college graduates will start new companies and that current businesses will expand to capitalize on the growth that the shale gas industry will provide.

Another integral part of meeting the grant’s third objective is promoting an Entrepreneurship program.  This will be a 10-week CCAC Workforce Development certificate program.  Participants for this program will be recruited by project staff.  Dislocated workers with strong manufacturing backgrounds will be prime candidates for this.

The strategic rationale for the POWER grant issued by the ARC to grant partners is to improve the lack of educational and economic opportunities.  Northwest Pennsylvania has been negatively impacted by the downturn in the coal industry.  Also, our region’s college completion rate is below state, national, and Appalachian region standards.  The POWER grant aligns with existing regional initiatives.

The goal of the project is that 150 high school students will have obtained employment or enrolled in further education or training, 75 workers/trainees will have enhanced their position or found new employment, and 30 adult participants will have completed entrepreneurship training and started at least four businesses.

The ARC’s POWER grant for the entire region is comprised of $22.8 million and 33 awards.  These investments are projected to create or retain nearly 1,000 jobs, benefit over 3,300 students and workers, and leverage more than $21.8 million in private investment into manufacturing, agriculture, technology, substance abuse recovery, broadband development, and other industry sectors across coal-impacted communities in nine Appalachian states.

“Today’s announcement continues an ongoing commitment for innovative economic development in Appalachia’s coal-impacted communities,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Tim Thomas. “Investing in key regional needs now will benefit the Region, and the rest of the country, well into the future.”

Local Industry Partners with Academia to Develop Apprenticeship Program and Enhance Local Manufacturing Workforce      

Oil City, PA – The Keystone Community Education Council (KCEC) has teamed up with the American Injection Molding (AIM) Institute and Clarion University to help bridge the skills gap in Northwestern Pennsylvania’s manufacturing workforce. The inaugural class of the Plastics Process Technician Apprenticeship Program will step through AIM’s doors on November 12th to begin two years of classroom and on-the-job-training.

This state-registered program will allow the apprentices to advance their skills and help progress our region’s manufacturing base. The local plastics industry has been asking for a program like this for years. This combination of hands-on experience and classroom learning is tailored to the exact needs of our region’s injection molders.

The Plastics Process Technician Apprenticeship Program was pioneered by a collaboration of twelve plastic manufacturers in our region. These companies recognize the importance of investing in their employees and the high value that continuing education brings to the advancement of their organizations. Through this effort, these companies have helped pave the way for skilled plastics workers to further their education in a new pathway that until now was unavailable locally.

Having multiple pathway options simultaneously builds a pipeline to expand the future labor force with the skills needed in manufacturing, plastics, and petrochemical industries.  An individual after high school graduation could enter the labor force and begin to obtain industry certifications through apprenticeship training or enter into a post-secondary track, such as Clarion University’s associate’s degree in Applied Technology. At completion of this juncture, an individual would have the opportunity earn industry specific certifications, or continue on for a bachelor’s degree.

KCEC is the Sponsor and will manage all administrative aspects of the program, including helping interested companies receive reimbursement for nearly two-third of the program costs through the Greater Oh-Penn Manufacturing Apprenticeship Network (Oh-Penn) and the Workforce & Economic Development Network of Pennsylvania (WEDnetPA).

If any companies are interested in participating in this apprenticeship program please contact Lance Hummer, Executive Director at the Keystone Community Education Council, by emailing lhummer@keystonecec.org .

Upcoming Training:

Welding Tech Certificate
Venango Technology
Center, Crawford County
Career and Tech Center
Fall 2019 Click Here
Basic Electronics Certificate VTC Fall 2019 Click Here
Machine Technician Certificate VTC Fall 2019 Click Here
Facility Maintenance VTC Fall 2019 Click Here
Mechatronics Certificate VTC Fall 2019 Click Here