The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

October 15, 2012

Colleges offering accelerated retraining

Pennsylvania Highlands among 14 schools to help displaced workers

Kelly Urban

JOHNSTOWN — A new statewide initiative launched by the state’s 14 community colleges is aimed at getting people back to work.

The program, JobTrakPA, uses fast and affordable retraining to help displaced workers regain employment in high-demand, family-sustaining jobs.

It was made possible through a $20 million Department of Labor Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College Career Training grant that was awarded to the colleges last fall.

“Pennsylvania employers tell us that they have jobs waiting for workers with career-specific skills in several high-growth industries,” said Alex Johnson, president of the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges. “Community colleges are part of a nationwide effort to provide a new skill set to our work force that will create career pathways for qualified workers in the shortest possible time.”

Advanced manufacturing, energy distribution, production and conservation and health-care information technology have been identified as in-demand and growing industries and are the priorities of the colleges.

In response to the local job market, Pennsylvania Highlands Community College developed a health-care technology specialist associate degree program that currently has 17 students enrolled, with more spots available for the upcoming semesters.

Due to a shift toward electronic medical records and an aging population, the state’s Department of Labor anticipates the need for more than 9,000 trained medical records and health information technicians by 2016.

“Enrollment in our health-care information technology program has far exceeded expectations,” said Walter Asonevich, president of Pennsylvania Highlands. “These students are interested in an education that leads to a rewarding career and provides a family-sustaining wage. The programs offered via JobTrakPA will provide these opportunities.”

Completing coursework in the health-care technology specialist program qualifies students for jobs in hospitals and doctor’s offices as medical records clerk, health information clerk, medical records technician, office manager, file clerk, medical records coordinator, medical records analyst and medical records director.

For more information, call 262-6400 or visit