September 2019
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Opportunities Grow for BSD Students and Grads

While most look at the young people arriving at Burrell High School each day as students, Westmoreland County businesses see them a bit differently.

As potential employees.

And a coalition of educators, business leaders, and community advocates has decided it’s time to bridge the gap between those two realities.

Formed in 2014, the Westmoreland County Forum For Workforce Development is working to prepare students for life after high school through internships, externships, and apprenticeships. District Superintendent Dr. Shannon Wagner says the organization will provide real-world experiences that can’t be simulated in the classroom.

“I’m excited about the opportunities for our students,” says Wagner, who co-chairs the group’s Internships, Externships And Apprenticeships Task Force. “Enabling students to see firsthand a profession that’s of interest to them before their post-secondary experiences is a win for everyone.”

Along with having Wagner and High School Principal John Boylan assist in the development, the district is supporting the initiative with a commitment of $5,000 each of the next three years.

“The Workforce Development Forum has been a valuable venue for school leaders to communicate opportunities for student internships, externships, and job-shadow experiences,” Boylan says. “As we prepare for the future of Westmoreland County, the creation of real-world experiences and connections for our students will be an integral facet of our school-to-career curriculum.”

Chad Amond, president of the Westmoreland County Chamber Of Commerce, is among those who sees today’s students as tomorrow’s workforce. He says the Forum For Workforce Development has three basic goals:


  • To introduce students to career opportunities in industries like information technology, manufacturing, healthcare, and energy.
  • To create educational pathways to these careers.
  • To create an online hub that matches students with businesses offering internships, externships, and apprenticeships.


“As the county’s population continues to decline, our employers are in constant search of workers with specific skills,” Amond says. “Ensuring that students are pursuing the correct career pathway and obtaining the skills they need will help the county retain and attract employers.”

Dr. Gennaro Piraino Jr., superintendent of the Franklin Regional School District, serves as chairperson of the Forum For Workforce Development. He says the organization’s diverse range of perspectives will be the key to advancing its mission.

“The daily roles of the educators, business leaders, and public officials may be somewhat different, but the strength of our organization is that we share a common vision,” he says. “As chairperson of this group and a lifelong resident of Westmoreland County, I recognize that the stakeholders are dependent upon one another for our long-term success and the economic vitality of our region.”

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