The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

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April 10, 2012

Congressman visits CareerLink

Kelly asks how he can help

SHARON — Manufacturing jobs are plentiful; people just aren’t trained to do them, Mercer County’s congressman said Monday as he toured CareerLink in Sharon.

Asking along the way how he can help promote services, Mike Kelly, Butler, R-3rd District, talked with the agency’s leaders about the jobs available locally that the shale industry will propel even more.

“There are jobs; we’re not prepared for them,” Kelly said, noting shale “is going to be a huge advantage for this county.

“I think it’s the most exciting time we’ve had in this country in over a half a century.”

Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate is less than 8 percent and less than the national average. In March, 949 people used CareerLink’s various services including self-assisted job searches, orientations and assistance with unemployment compensation claims.

One of the first questions Kelly posed to CareerLink administrator Angela Palumbo and West Central Job Partnership executive director Samuel Giannetti was whether they deal with jobs related to drilling in Marcellus and Utica shale. Drilling is expected to come to Trumbull and potentially Mercer counties, mostly in the Utica shale because the Marcellus layer is too thin here for drilling.

Giannetti said West Central has connected six people from Mercer County with shale-related jobs through Marcellus ShaleNET, a Pennsylvania agency that connects people online to jobs.

“We’re seeing a lot of jobs in manufacturing that are beginning to really surge,” he said.

Kelly, who visited with his wife and one staff member, took notes and asked how he could help through his position on the Education & Workforce committee.

Giannetti said it was useful that Kelly and others signed off on West Central’s application for a Department of Labor Workforce Innovation Grant for which he’s awaiting a determination.

Kelly also offered to link to the agency through his own website.

Kelly asked about job preparation for traditional students as well as adults, stating when he served on Butler’s school board he remembers guidance counselors who were proud of their students going to prestigious colleges and not necessarily steering them toward skilled jobs.

“If education is really about getting people ready for life, we have to look at what’s really available, not what we wish was available,” he said.

Palumbo said when CareerLink started 11 years ago there was a big need for machinists, and there still is today.

Palumbo and Giannetti thanked Kelly numerous times for visiting, and Kelly said it’s all part of the job, to hear the concerns of those in the district and take them back to Washington.

“Others (in government) have come before, but I’ve never seen somebody ask so many questions,” Giannetti said. “We’re very hopeful he can represent us (on the Education & the Workforce committee) because these resources are important for the community.”

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