The Bedford County Technical Center

Working to meet Bedford County’s skill needs
Written by Harry Zimbler for the Progress & Industry Edition

Agriscience and Biotechnology Center students work in the lab extracting DNA from strawberries.

For Mark Bollman, Administrative Director at The Bedford County Technical Center, partnerships with industry are critical to the mission of growing a skilled workforce in the region.

“It seems that the partnerships we’re establishing with businesses are on the rise at the BCTC,” he said. “We are matching our students with the needs of companies. We recruit students to our center, especially from our partner schools, Everett and Bedford Area High Schools.”

A recent partnership that was established with JLG Industries is a great accomplishment since it resulted in the placement of five BCTC students. Three received full-time jobs with JLG.

Bedford County Technical Center holds a Career Fair for each program offered at the Tech Center.
Bedford County Technical Center holds a Career Fair for each program offered at the Tech Center.

Bollman recognizes that it is essential for Bedford County to slow the brain drain — the young people who leave Bedford — by encouraging young professionals to settle in the region to start businesses and fill the vacancies in the workforce.  Bollman said that now, more than ever, there are many opportunities available to entrepreneurs and skilled workers alike in Bedford County and south-central Pennsylvania.

There has been a great deal of discussion of the Millennial generation’s approach to employment and starting a business.

“Millennials are very different from other generations,” Bollman said. “They like their conveniences, for example: They go to places that have these conveniences. Pittsburgh, for example. It is difficult to attract these folks,” he said. “Statistics show that young people change jobs many times.  They are not tied to place or family.”

The Technical Center is working with the Bedford County Development Association to bring desirable things into the region.

“We need housing for young professionals, public transportation and more recreational amenities. It’s not just about jobs and business opportunities,” Bollman said.

Currently, the leading programs and curriculum at the BCTC are welding, automotive studies and health assistance.

“If students want to go into an area we serve, we are set up well. And our programs result in jobs, not debt,” said Bollman. “I look for building construction to heat up soon. Working with the Allegheny College of Maryland, we are seeking to offer more adult education courses and programs for displaced workers,” he said.

For those students seeking a career in cosmetology, many hours are required for state certification, “The state requires 1,250 hours on the job. That’s more than any other program we offer,” Bollman noted. “We got approval for our graduates to earn hours by working with our current students to earn them. That’s called an inter-generational approach.  This is something we want to grow in the future.”