Sunday, April 24, 2016

Youth talent pipeline!





Nancy Dischinat, Executive Director, 
Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board, Inc.

The Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board, Inc (LVWDB) and the PA CareerLink® Lehigh Valley took our focus on youth to a whole new level this week!

On Thursday, April 21, 2016 the PA CareerLink® Lehigh Valley hosted the first ever Youth Job Fair.  It was great to host over 48 vendors from the Lehigh Valley at our facility located at 555 Union Boulevard in Allentown.  Vendors were informing students and our youth of the Lehigh Valley about skills and requirements for employment at their company. Here are just some of the vendors who attended.

 Dorney Park
 IBEW 375
Walgreens

If would like to participate as a vendor or know a youth who needs a job please contact Cindy Evans, Director of Youth Initiatives at 610-841-1004.

The LVWDB is always looking to partner with our educators to create a talent pipeline for our workforce. For the second youth initiative program we partnered with Southern Lehigh School District. This morning fifteen Lehigh Valley businesses were represented at the first ever Lehigh Career and Technical Institute Student Appreciation Breakfast at Southern Lehigh High School.  Students studying in various fields where able to network and interact with industry representatives from the Lehigh Valley.
Fields of study included:
  • *      Plumbing & Heating
  • *      Culinary Arts
  • *      Heating/Air Conditioning and Refrigeration
  • *      Auto Body/Collision
  • *      Electromechanical/Mechatron
  • *      Heavy Equipment
  • *      Small Engine/Rec Vehicle
  • *      Emerging Health Professional (Healthcare)
  • *      Electronics/Nanofabrication
  • *      Web Design/Web Programming
  • *      Precision Machine Tool Tech
  • *      Print Tech/Graphic Imaging
  • *      Computer & Networking Tech
  • *      Marketing & Business Ed


If your business would like to attend next year please contact Cindy Evans, Director of Youth Initiatives at 610-841-1004.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

How you can implement a career pathway at your business.

 
Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board, Inc. (LVWDBP) and the Lehigh Valley Business Education Partnership recently held an informative and interactive Summit on Employer's Role in Developing Career Pathyways.

As Executive Director of the LVWDB, I shared the valuable ways employers can help strengthen their future workforce.

     1. Implement a Career Pathyway in Your Workplace.  Here at the LVWDB we have the tools and information you need to start a pathway in your company.
 
   2.  Participate in Rotational Internships.  Just ask B.Braun, as one of the first employers to help start the Lehigh Valley Rotational Internship program they are happy to see that students are now able to choose from over ten different industries in the Lehigh Valley.

     3.Welcome organizations and students into your facilities.  Getting people into your doors will start conversations that may lead to knowledge sharing,  employment opportunities, improvement and better understanding of your workforce needs.

During the summit Lehigh Valley employers shared their programs and success stories.
  • St. Luke's Health Network offeres medical professional pathway for employees who want to advance.
  • International Brotherhood Electrical Workers 375 offers apprenticeship opportunities.
  • Lehigh Valley Plastics offers rotational internships for interested youth.
  • Bracalente Manufacturing Group implements specific machinery pathways for employees.

Richard Sniscak, Parkland School District Superintedent was on hand to offer his perspective about the programs offered to students in the Parkland School District.  They have been offering specialized programs to students for years and will continue to dedicate funding for students to become prepared to enter the workforce.

There are SO many ways employers can contribute and improve our workforce.  For more information call our Business Engagement Service Team at 610-437-5627

Web Design and SEO: Tips and Tricks

Web Design and SEO: Tips and Tricks

Web designers tend to get caught up in their designs so much they forget about marketing best practices. The marketers sometimes wish the developer of a website did things a bit differently. Possessing the knowledge of some basic SEO tactics can be the difference between a good and great designer. An even better designer will work in unison with someone who specializes in Internet marketing.

If you are a web developer and do not have a lot of knowledge when it comes to SEO then this is a great place to start. Understanding the basics of optimizing a website will effectively create happier clients as their website organically reaches new heights in their search engine ranking. This article is also great for a small business who would like to fix up their website in house. On page optimization is not an overly difficult task, but it requires enough knowledge not to engage in over optimization, a practice that novices sometimes engage in.

1. Quality Content

Search engines like Google love content for indexing. Not all content is created equal however. The content on a website should be very readable and easy for the end user to comprehend. Failing to do so will hurt ones search engine ranking rather than help it. 

Another pro tip is not to write for search engines. Yes, search engines are the ones that rank your website, but they’re not the ones that truly read it. Each page and blog post should attain backlinks over the course of time. These are links that point back to your website. If readers enjoy a blog post, we know now more than ever they are likely to share the link to that post on social media such as Facebook or Twitter. Making your readers happy will have a greater affect than making search engines happy.

1. Link Structure

Many websites now take advantage of having a clean link structure, however this was not always the case. A good link structure is readable, concise, and consistent. For example, you want your link structure to look something like 
(websitename).com/products as opposed to 
(websitename).com/listingofallproductscreatedin2016. 
This can get even worse by creating a very deep folder hierarchy so instead of just the forward slash and the page (/page) you have /folder1/folder2/listingofallprodcutscreatedin2016.

Keeping these linking structures consistent as I already pointed out is important. Your website probably has an XML sitemap, and this helps search engines index your website. By creating a consistent naming structure search engines will reward your ranking.

1. Internal Linking

Internal linking is a great way to build SEO, and it’s also a great way to destroy it (see avoid over optimization). This is one of those particulars when it comes to building a website and SEO. A web designer should be very good at creating internal links based on the content provided.

A good rule of thumb is to split up internal links 50/50 so 50% link to top level pages (navigation bar), and 50% link to deeper pages such as blog posts. The 50/50 rule helps create a balance and prevents someone from over optimizing their top level pages which tends to happen a lot.

Another tip here is not to use keyword heavy internal links as well. Google is very good at picking up on this and will drop a website down in ranking a lot. As soon as it is fixed it tends to come back quickly. For example, if I linked to my portfolio page every time by website said portfolio or web design portfolio it would hurt my rank. If you are interested in checking it out though, it is located here. See what I did there?

1. Social Media Sharing

Take advantage of social media every chance you can. Encourage your customers to share, share, share! Creating opportunities for customers to talk about content and share it helps them feel like they’re a part of the brand, aka brand loyalty. I pointed out earlier it is important to get backlinks to your website, and this is one of the best ways to do so!

1. Responsive Layout

A responsive layout adapts to any size screen. This means the website should look good on a computer, tablet, phone, or any other device that has Internet capabilities. This helps keep continuity across the website on all devices, and it helps search engine ranking.

Gone are the days where it’s cool to have m.website.com for mobile devices. Go ahead and check out dekoponsolutions.com on your phone. It’s the same exact website as the one on your desktop, however it makes a few notable changes. The menu does not stay fixed, information becomes centered, and the menu is condensed so it doesn’t take up the whole screen. This is the future of web development. If your website does not have a responsive layout it’s better to make the changes now instead of suffering the consequences later.

1. Avoid Over Optimization

Over optimization is the art of taking things a step too far. I wanted to finish on this to leave a lasting impression when it comes to creating internal links which is the most popular way to over optimize a website. If a customer is on the website already, acknowledge the fact they’re there. They don’t need a thousand links using keywords to direct them around. A well thought out navigational menu with a couple added internal links is all one needs.

Many Internet marketers have done this themselves in the past and they will tell you exactly what I am. Don’t add a lot of keyword heavy internal links. No one wants to lose 50 spots on Google because they were trying to do the right thing. Remember to cater to your customers and not search engines. If you did a good job with the layout of your website directing customers to the right places, then you are golden.

Conclusion

Above are some great tips to start understanding what it takes to integrate a strong SEO foundation in a website. A great web designer does this and works with Internet marketers to maintain success. It is important for you to realize as well this will not solely drive tons of traffic to a website, increase conversions, or get you the top spot on Google. What it does is set your website up for success and in conjunction with a strong marketing campaign this can be easily achieved. The work all starts on the website though, so if you are paying a couple thousand dollars for a website, make sure your designer knows what they are doing. If they say it is not their job to worry about SEO, they’re not a designer worth paying.




Steven Werley: Steve is the founder of Dekopon Solutions. He works with small businesses, non-profits, and individuals to create responsive websites optimized for search engines. His background is a B.S. Computer Science from East Stroudsburg University and is a couple months away from attaining his M.S. Internet Marketing from Full Sail University. Feel free to contact him by phone (610)737-7263 or email steven.werley@dekoponsolutions.com with any questions.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Allentown ReEngagement Center: Drop Out? Drop Back In!





Nancy Dischiant,
Executive Director, Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board, Inc.


Every time a student drops out of school in the Lehigh Valley the cost is approximately $700 a year.  Last year more than 350 students dropped out of the Allentown School District (ASD). The Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board, Inc. (LVWDB) is very concerned because this number impacts our current and future workforce.  The cost of dropping out is high and every student is important to the growth of our economy.
New pathways need to be developed, therefore ASD, Communities in Schools of the Lehigh Valley (CIS) and LVWDB began a collaborative effort to offer alternative pathways for ASD. This effort resulted in The Allentown ReEngagement Center (REC) that works to identify, engage and re-enroll disengaged youth back into the school district to earn an ASD diploma, therefore increasing their entry into Lehigh Valley’s workforce.
CIS, part of a nationwide organization focused on dropout prevention, providing outreach and recruitment, knocking on doors and developing one-on-one relationships giving them a second chance and motivating them to re-engage back into school. CIS assesses the students’ academic needs and guides them into an ASD facilitated online learning program or a GED program offered in cooperation with The Literacy Center. Once the youth re-engage in the center, located at 4th and Allen, the LVWDB , through CareerFORCE,  assists with career awareness, exploration and development, provides national industry recognized certifications, post-secondary training opportunities and develops connections to employers through field trips, work experiences and ultimately employment.
Jonathan Fenner, Program Manager at Allentown REC, sums up the re-entry strategy by stating “Allentown REC was designed to help remove barriers and bring students who have left school back into an educational setting so they can earn their diploma or GED while also participating in a career readiness program.”
In the five months since it opened, Allentown REC has contacted over 500 youth with 92 returning to an academic setting.  If you have an interest in providing opportunities for disconnected youth, please contact Cindy Evans, Director of Youth Initiatives, LVWDB at 610-841-1004 or cevans@lvwib.org We need your help in providing workshops, company tours, mentoring and employment opportunities.  We need your support.




1st Photo-Manny Torres, Outreach Worker and Jonathan Fenner, Program Manager outside the REC at the William Penn Building in Allentown
2nd & 3rd Photos: REC employees engaging with Lehigh Valley students for one-on-one services