Gov. Tom Wolf visits Lehigh Carbon Community College

published Tuesday, January 9, 2018
Lehigh Carbon Community College was proud to host Gov. Tom Wolf on Jan. 9 at its main campus in Schnecksville, Pa.

Wolf joined LCCC officials, students, instructors and company leaders in a tour of the college’s commercial truck driver training facility. The CDL program prepares students to earn their commercial driver’s license in four weeks, meeting the Lehigh Valley’s demand for professionally trained drivers.

“The commercial trucking industry continues to expand in the Lehigh Valley, and that is creating many good-paying, family-sustaining jobs in this region,” Wolf said. “Not every student wants to go to a four-year college or university, but workers need advanced skills for most in-demand jobs. By bringing together LCCC, employers and the community, training programs like this are creating a pipeline to prepare people for the jobs companies need to fill.”

Lead instructor Jessica Petresky, who is also a graduate of LCCC's CDL program, stood with Wolf next to one of LCCC's tractor-trailers and spoke about the training that LCCC offers and how it helps fill the need for well-trained driving professionals. 

"I see how the industry is shifting, and education is the frontline of that," Petresky said, referring to changing federal and state regulations and emerging technology in the industry.

LCCC’s new mobile manufacturing mobile unit was also part of the tour. The mobile lab helps prepare workers for high-demand jobs in advanced manufacturing by allowing local manufacturers to send their employees to the lab for hands-on training, without having to travel to an LCCC campus.

Following the tour, Wolf joined a roundtable discussion on workforce training led by LCCC President Dr. Ann Bieber.

“Lehigh Carbon Community College works closely with area employers to ensure we are meeting their training needs and preparing the workforce for jobs in our area," Bieber said. "The visit from Governor Wolf gives us the opportunity to showcase two of our programs - CDL truck driving training and manufacturing - and how they directly relate to the needs of our region, positively impacting economic development.”

Wolf and Bieber were joined in the roundtable discussion by LCCC instructors, students, and representatives from several Lehigh Valley employers, including Mack Trucks Lehigh Valley,  ATAS, Inc., West Side Hammer Electric, National Freight, FlexLink, Equipto and Bio Med Sciences.

The group agreed that one of the most pressing issues for the industry is a lack of well-trained new employees to fill the jobs that are left as many experienced workers retire.

“A lot of growth has been in the trucking industry,” said Nancy Dischinat, an LCCC graduate and executive director of Workforce Board-Lehigh Valley. “Employers are stepping up to the plate with training, because there is such a demand. Workforce development is everyone’s job right now.”

Former students also spoke highly of the program and the ability it gave them to enter a growing field.

"I'm grateful for everything they taught me," former CDL student Deverri Santiago said of LCCC's instructors. “People think anyone can be a driver, but this taught me responsibility and confidence when driving. That is a big piece of equipment with a lot of weight behind it, and the safety part is what I learned here."

Wolf ended the visit by making a brief appearance at LCCC's Welcome Back session, where faculty members were getting ready for the upcoming spring semester that begins Jan. 12.

"What you do here is so important," Wolf told the gathered faculty members. "You're doing things that make lives better and the economy stronger. Keep doing what you're doing."