Merski, Harkins: $150,000 awarded to create workforce training center

Will help launch Uniquely Abled Academy for students with autism

ERIE, Feb. 1 – Erie County students will benefit from a new training center, thanks to grant funding of $150,000, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today.

The lawmakers said the Business-Education Partnership grant to the Northwest Workforce Development Board will provide a career pipeline for students who will benefit from specific training.

“Building the best possible workforce for our community means tapping into every young adult to help them maximize their skills,” Harkins said. “The funding awarded today will help launch the Uniquely Abled Academy, which will prepare students with autism for careers in computer numerical control machining – a high-demand career in today’s manufacturing industry. It’s a win for students and for our workforce.”

Merski said, “Erie has a highly talented pool of students, including students with autism who have much to offer, but we need to make sure we are reaching them with the right resources. The new center is going to open doors for these students by providing training in high-demand skills to ensure they achieve productive roles in the workplace.”

The Northwest Workforce Development Board also serves Crawford, Warren, Forest, Venango, Clarion, and in addition to launching the new center, the board will also connect rural students to local employers for work experience or company tours to offer hands-on experiences with local industries in the area.

Business-Education Partnership grants from the Department of Labor and Industry are funded at 100% through federal money made available from the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act. The grants are part of a package to workforce development organizations statewide.