Academy Working To Train Jobless Training Institute Offers Classes In Skills Needed In The Workplace. Then It Matches Workers To Positions.

Posted: November 01, 1993

TINICUM — People who have been laid off or need retraining for a new pursuit needn't spend hours searching for work as an electrical power engineer, boiler operator, carpenter or plumber.

They can enroll at the Academy of Industrial Training, receive a stipend while attending classes and have a good chance of finding work.

For example, 79 people enrolled recently in the academy's training program for railroad car repair work for Conrail. Seventy-seven completed the course and found work starting at nearly $14 an hour plus benefits, said Edwin E. Scully, the academy's director for program development.

The academy's latest class begins today.

"Our objective is to prepare people for jobs that exist and make arrangements for local employers to hire them," Scully said. "We'll find the job openings for them since it would be wasteful and costly and time-consuming to train people for unnecessary jobs."

Besides the training, eligible participants can apply for a weekly stipend to help cover costs for transportation and meals while attending classes.

"We will give them $2 an hour to a maximum of 32 hours a week," Scully said.

Tuition is free for workers who lost their jobs through plant closings or relocations or workforce reductions. Funding for the program is underwritten by federal grants funneled through the state Department of Labor and Industry.

Scully said courses included training in air conditioning and refrigeration, industrial electricity, engineering mathematics, boiler operations and carpentry. Completion of the course most often results in jobs maintaining buildings, such as a manufacturing plant, shopping center, office complex, hospital or apartment house, he said.

He pointed out that the academy was not a nonprofit operation; rather, it is a division of American Systems Engineering Corp. of Virginia Beach, Va., which provides training and instruction to workers of local companies seeking to keep pace with changing technology and remain competitive.

Clients have included Sun Co., Budd Co., BP Oil Co., Chevron Co. and the U.S. Navy Aviation Supply Office in Northeast Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard.

"This is an example of public education and industry working together to solve the jobless problem," Scully said.

The class beginning today - from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. four times a week over a seven-week period - will be held at the former Westinghouse Electric Corp. facility at 10 Industrial Highway.

Scully said the schedule was designed to allow time for job counseling, preparation of resumes, mock interviews and meetings with potential employers.

Classes are small, about eight trainees per session, Scully said, "so that we can give them hands-on instruction."

The Academy of Industrial Training usually is hired to retrain workers for local companies and government defense installations, but the program beginning Nov. 1 is being carried out under a $150,000 subcontract for the Delaware County Technical Schools of Folcroft.

The technical schools will recruit workers to be retrained, screen and counsel them and assist in job placement. Funding is provided by the federal Job Training Partnership Act for dislocated workers.

Scully himself has experienced job loss. He had been director of continuing education for Spring Garden College, but was scouting for another job as the institution considered closing because of shrinking enrollment and revenues.

On June 30, 1992, the college did close. The next day, Scully, 64, was hired by the academy.

"There is no age restrictions in our training programs," he said. "We've had fellows in the 50s go through and find work."

Workers displaced by plant relocations or closings, who are American citizens and can prove residency may apply for the free training by calling 583-4509 or 583-7620.

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