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Job Training Aimed at Boosting Level of Skilled Workers in the Region

A new federally-funded program seeks to provide Pittsburghers with career training in an array of fields in an effort to fill a large number of jobs left open because of a lack of trained workers.

A series of informational meetings are scheduled to help people in the region learn about possible career training opportunities. The Southwestern Pennsylvania Urban Revitalization Projects (SPUR) will prove free career training to qualified individuals from so-called underserved communities.

"[The jobs are] in the nursing, energy, and trades area, specifically dealing with renewable energy, mechatronics, automotive, heating and ventilation, all of the trades including plumbing and welding, and also natural gas industry jobs," said Nancilee Burzachechi, with Community College of Allegheny County.

It's estimated there are thousands of jobs going unfilled each year because there aren't enough skilled workers to fill them all. That's where SPUR comes in. It's a two-year initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Labor and the Employment and Training Administration. Some training programs can be completed in as little as two months. And at the end of the training, which is free to participants, the individual will not end up underemployed.

"We're talking about life-sustaining wages for these individuals," said Burzachechi. "You don't have to be unemployed to qualify. If you're working in a job and want to get to the next level, you can use this opportunity to get training to supplement what your existing training, skills, or educational levels are."

The first of the informational meetings will take place Saturday, March 3, from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM at the Hill House Association in Pittsburgh. Other meetings will take place on Tuesday, March 6, from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM, and Saturday, April 21, from 10:00 AM to noon and 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM, also at the Hill House Association.