Monday, June 27, 2016

We are enhancing the world of career and technical opportunities in the 21st Century!

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

On Wednesday June 15, I provided testimony before the PA House Education Committee’s Select Subcommittee On Technical Education and Career Readiness.  William Thompson, Executive Director of the Westmoreland-Fayette Workforce Investment Board, Dan Fogarty, Director of Workforce Development & CEO of the Berks County Workforce Development Board and I were honored to share with the subcommittee recent programs and strategies for enhancing participation at career and technical education centers in our local areas. 

If you would like to review my written testimony and see how we are advancing career and technical schools in the Lehigh Valley, please click on the link below.

To view all the panelists and agenda, please click below

The PWDA website hosts all the panelists testimonies before the PA House Education Committee.

Have suggestions?  Want to know more?  Please feel free to contact me at

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Helping Kids in the Wake of Large Scale Tragedy

Guest Blogger Jodi S. W. Whitcomb, M.S., leader of the KidsPeace Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT), provides advice for parents in helping their children deal with such events, in the wake of the June 12 mass shooting in Orlando,.

When large-scale acts of violence occur, it is difficult for ANYONE to process. How can we make sense of something so extreme and horrifying? If adults feel this way, imagine how much more challenging it may be for the children in our lives.
While every child (and every adult) reacts differently to extraordinary events like these, common reactions can include:
    •    Sleep and/or eating problems
    •    Sadness, tearfulness
    •    Fear, anxiety, worry
    •    Irritability, anger
    •    Nightmares
    •    Headaches, upset stomach
    •    Trouble focusing, feeling “numb” or “fuzzy”
    •    Not wanting to go to school
    •    Not wanting to leave their “comfort zone” (with whomever or wherever that is)
    •    Being “okay” at first but then “breaking down” unexpectedly
    •    Wanting to avoid the situation or talk about the situation
It is normal for these symptoms to persist for a few weeks, and then subside a little bit at a time. But keep in mind that some people will take longer to begin feeling better.
Typically speaking, individuals who are geographically closer to the event, or individuals who are in some way emotionally connected to the event, will have a stronger reaction than others. However, today both traditional and social media can bring extremely realistic representations of a traumatic event to a much wider audience than in the past. That means people who live in other states, for instance, may feel stronger effects of the trauma.
And do not underestimate the power of “vicarious traumatization,” which means being traumatized by watching something, looking at pictures, or by listening to the telling of a story over and over.

What parents can say and do to help:
    1.    Limit exposure to media relating to the event.
    2.    Talk to your child about what happened, but don’t give them information they do not need. Answer what they ask and nothing more. (Example: “Mom, did anyone die?” “Yes, it’s sad, but some people did die.” It’s not necessary to give details.)
    3.    Let your child be your guide. Listen to what they have to say. Let them talk. Validate their emotions.
    4.    Be tolerant and understanding of worry, fear, sadness and anger. Be prepared to deal with these emotions and remind yourself that they are normal responses given the circumstances.
    5.    Do whatever you can to make your child feel safe and secure.
    6.    Take care of yourself. As parents, we can’t help our children if we aren’t taking care of our own needs.
If symptoms like those listed above do not improve, or get worse, it’s time to see a mental health professional. Reach out to the guidance department at your child’s school or call your child’s pediatrician. You or your child may also like to visit or for more resources.

The KidsPeace Critical Incident Response Team provides support and critical incident stress debriefing to individuals and groups in the wake of traumatic events. In addition to leading the CIRT, Jodi Whitcomb serves as Director of Organizational Development & Training at KidsPeace.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Career Pathways is for EVERYONE!

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

The  Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board Inc. (LVWDB) and the Lehigh Valley Business Education Partnership (LVBEP) hosted the 2016 Lehigh Valley Career Pathways Consortium.  Many of you have heard of Career Pathways before but like many initiatives and programs its need to be updated to keep up with today's fast paced world.   Career Pathways is an initiative to change the way students learn.  It is intended to benefit all students, whatever their career goals. Career Pathways presents well-structured curriculum which students may follow to move from their schools to post-secondary education, technical schools and to successful careers. Academic requirements are rigorous and coupled with an emphasis on employ-ability skills and application of their academic learning.

Why is this important to employers?  These pathways will help your future workforce have a better understanding of careers in your industry, the skills needed in your industry and also the 21st century skills needed in our workplaces.

Why is this important to our community?  These pathways could prevent students from attending a four year college with very little vision and understanding of the careers and jobs available after the four, five or six years they spend in college.  After four to six years of college many of our students have incredible debt with unsustainable wages to pay them off.

Lehigh Valley school districts, career and technical schools, local community colleges and the LVWDB/LVBEP are working collaboratively to develop, support and promote the future workforce in the Lehigh Valley.  We have developed a seven point regional leadership framework for collaborative career pathways programming, goal setting and action planning.
But really our employers really need to focus on 5 and 6--take a look.......
  1. Defining the essential elements of career pathway programming
  2. Self-assessing your organization
  3. Identifying potential partnerships and collective impact relationships
  4. Increase the capacity to counsel and serve students
  5. Supporting opportunities: job shadows, internships, externships and employment in key LV sectors.  Employers can offer work-site mentoring, job shadowing, internships, co-op placements employment.
  6. Investing directly in individual students by Lehigh Valley businesses.  Employers could develop college tuition assistance programs- with a special model development for small employers that will fund a minimum of an associates degree at local community colleges.
  7. Establishing articulated certificate and debtfree options for students.
If you are interested in learning more about how your business can contribute to Career Pathways please contact Clyde Hornberger at 610-657-1345.

If you are interested in learning about how a child can benefit from Career Pathways please contact Cindy Evans at 60-841-1004

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Summer time is here- Do you know someone who is between 16 & 24 yrs old and needs something to do?

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

The Lehigh Valley Workforce Investment Board Youth Development program is overseen by the Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board and its Youth Council. In general, the youth programs are designed to offer the neediest youth with opportunities to successfully transition to adult roles and responsibilities. The emphasis has been on teaching academic and employability skills to youth who might otherwise not have an opportunity to succeed academically or vocationally. The youth service providers work with various agencies to recruit the neediest youth who may be out-of-school, homeless, aging out of foster care, offenders, disabled, and other at-risk youth. The Youth Workforce Development Council has a proactive vision of creating a seamless system that ensures all youth transition successfully from school to advanced training to work. Click here for more information on the Youth Workforce Development Board.
A variety of services are available to prepare Young Adults for the world of work. We can assist you if you are seeking skill training or post high school education, or planning a job search and need help matching your skills and qualifications. PA CareerLink® Lehigh Valley can assist you in achieving your employment and educational goals as well as connecting you to services in the community.

PA CareerLink® Lehigh Valley's youth program offers a variety of summer jobs and year-round programs that prepare Young Adults, who are still in school and are between the ages of 16 through 21, for their future and the world of work. Services for qualified youth include work experience, career exploration, mentoring, and academic enrichment to help you gain the skills and information needed for your future.
Work, training, career connections and more are available right now for young adults 16-24 years of age!