As young people finish their high school education and begin thinking about their future, many realize that they lack the skills employers desire. Without skills, youth remain stuck in low paying jobs with very little hope for advancement. In addition to grants, the Wyoming Valley West Educational Foundation plans to assist young students from the Wyoming Valley West School District as they work toward completing their secondary education and enter the workforce. Workforce Development programs promote the achievement of a high school diploma and help students become college and career ready.

Education not only builds a skilled workforce, it also provides social, civic, and personal development. Inequitable access to high-quality education contributes to achievement gaps across racial, ethnic, and economic lines and to the decline of student achievement across the U.S. compared to other industrialized nations. Creating skilled workers for an economy that is constantly changing will require strategic investments, better education and workforce development programs that coordinate and align with employers’ needs.

While providing access to college should remain a high priority, the majority of jobs will continue to require more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year degree, making education beyond high school increasingly essential. As the economy and technology rapidly evolve, students will need to learn new skills and match those skills to jobs. Too often, students find their skills do not match job requirements because education and workforce training don’t adapt quickly enough, especially for fast-growing industries. The lack of coordination between these systems often leaves employers’ needs unmet as well.

We need an effective, adaptable, and coordinated education and workforce development system to keep workers’ skills current. To ensure that workers gain skills that match employers’ needs, the business community must play a larger role in K-12 education to develop workforce programs. As needed, the Wyoming Valley West Educational Foundation will help to coordinate education and related services with employers, workforce and economic development partnerships. This will strengthen students’ knowledge and prepare them to enter the workforce or for further education.

The Wyoming Valley West Educational Foundation is aware of changing demographics within the school district with regard to poverty and economically disadvantaged students. We recognize that many students face unimaginable hardships and come from families torn apart by poverty, abuse, neglect, alcohol and drugs. The foundation is making plans to make a positive impact in the district and give access to tools and technologies that will help all students excel. In turn, it is our hope to provide them with the pride and power they need in order to build confidence and discipline to become adults who can make positive contributions in their communities.