Delaware County Community College was pleased to host a productive roundtable discussion with Chairman Reed and members of the House Majority Policy Committee, the college’s Keys Program and New Choices Career Development Program, and Pathways PA, focused on the needs of low income families and individuals in transition. Chairman Reed spoke eloquently about his personal experience growing up in a family that at times struggled economically and how that has impacted his understanding of what it means to be “poor”.
As Director of the New Choices Career Development Program I was able to share information about the needs of the individuals we serve who are grappling with job loss, protracted unemployment, loss of self-esteem and self-worth, feelings of isolation, and a host of other concerns facing participants as they seek employment opportunities and improved economic self-sufficiency. Although the economy is slowly recovering, job opportunities continue to be limited. Women in particular often face unique challenges in finding employment that provides family-sustaining wages. As a result of time spent out of the workforce caring for children or other family members many women have limited education/training or sporadic work experience.
Committee members were receptive to hearing about the barriers facing the individuals we serve, as well as strategies to support participants in identifying career goals, developing realistic career plans and successfully entering the workforce. Education is often the key to individuals rising out of entry-level jobs into positions that pay family-sustaining wages, and community colleges are gateways to programs and services that provide specific training and support.
I appreciate the Committee’s willingness to examine the issue of poverty across the state and to seek effective solutions to the challenges facing many Pennsylvanians.
Director, New Choices Career Development Program
Delaware County Community College