Infrastructure career development was the topic of a town hall held Wednesday via Zoom that featured local business leaders, elected officials and energy field professionals.
Linda Thomson, president of Johnstown Area Regional Industries, led the chat organized by Pennsylvania Highlands Community College and Energy Transfer.
The goal was "to really provide information and perspective to current and incoming students, to parents, to educators, to the industry about careers and the preparations for careers in energy infrastructure and manufacturing," Thomson said.
Several individuals outlined their roles and perspectives, such as Penn Highlands President and CEO Steve Nunez, Cambria County President Commissioner Thomas Chernisky and state Sens. Wayne Langerholc, Jr., R-Richland Township, and Judy Ward, R-Blair.
Joseph McGinn, vice president of public affairs and government relations for Energy Transfer, CPV Fairview Energy Center Plant Manager Bob Burchfield and two Penn Highlands alumni working in the energy field also spoke to the group.
McGinn said individuals employed by Energy Transfer across the state and country represent how important those type of jobs are and the different education paths employees took to get there.
He also provided some words of wisdom to current and future students.
"Find out what you really like that you can enjoy," McGinn said. "You don't have to zero in on a specific career."
Burchfield added that it's important to augment core skills with others, such as language.
He said students should never underestimate electives and recommended they master the suite of Microsoft programs because those can be beneficial.
Other individuals who spoke included Westmont Hilltop School District Superintendent Thomas Mitchell, Windber Area School District Superintendent Joseph Kimmel and Hollidaysburg Area Senior High School Assistant Principal Mark Harrington.
They detailed how their schools prepare students for the work force and tailor course loads to specific interests.
"We want to make sure we're sending students out for success when they leave us," Mitchell said.
He also requested a "centralized resource" for districts "to tap into all of the resources industry and businesses have" in the area.
Thomson said that suggestion was feasible and that she'd be in touch.
"I just feel that we are making tremendous progress in helping get where we need to be as a community to see students succeed in the workforce," Thomson said, "and also our companies succeed in being productive and efficient because they have the right people in place to work for them and with them."