Rotarians learn about moving West Virginia forward

Elkins Rotary Club members were told Monday that a new structure is being built to help deliver technical training necessary to move West Virginia’s economy forward.

Located on Interstate 79, the Technology Park in Fairmont has 57,000 square feet devoted to serve as home to the Advanced Technology Center.

The center was funded through the Legislature three years ago and give community colleges greater capacity to accommodate students.

Paul Schreffler, vice president for Workforce Development with Pierpont Community & Technical College, said the college also offers fun items to help residents be lifelong learners.

“We are facing a perfect storm,” Schreffler said. “We have a wide disparity of literacy, numeracy and work place skills among school-aged and adult populations. This disparity means many industry sectors are looking for the same resources.”

Schreffler said they look to California to determine what the labor market will be like in 20 years.

He said employers are looking to find good people, and community and technical colleges are designed for and well-positioned to provide qualified graduates for various workplace programs.

“The West Virginia job openings by skill level for 2008 to 2018 will be 23 percent low skill, 29 percent high skill and 48 percent middle skill,” Schreffler said. “The middle skill level is where we are trying to concentrate.”

According to Schreffler, core industries include energy and allied health, power plant operators, petroleum technology, mechatronics, health information technology and medical laboratory technology.

“We are using innovative learning including immersive technology, simulation of systems and equipment, flexible training space, modular course formats, accelerated programs, integrated credit and non-credit courses, non-traditional scheduling and placing the focus on the customer,” Schreffler said. “We can bring in a tractor-trailer or a large piece of equipment to work on skills.”

Schreffler said this is an exciting time.

“We are growing to meet the needs of our community,” he said.